Yet another national shortage is threatening to derail the United States' loudest holiday. According to a report by PEOPLE, retailers around the country are warning that there will not be enough fireworks to go around this Fourth of July. Customers hoping to celebrate responsibly should seek out their suppliers now.
Fireworks are the latest product reportedly hit by shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay-at-home orders led bored Americans to set off fireworks pretty freely in the summer of 2020, while supply chain interruptions have reduced the number of fireworks available overall. NBC News reported that there might be as much as a 30 percent decrease in fireworks imports compared to last year, leaving revelers with no booms and flashes to mark Independence Day.
Some shoppers also told the outlet directly that they are already having trouble finding fireworks compared to previous years. In some cases, they have traveled across state lines to find what they're looking for, though laws on fireworks can vary greatly from state to state.
Of course, to top it all off, fireworks costs are on the rise with just about everything else due to the pandemic economy and rampant inflation. Phantom Fireworks vice president William Weimer told reporters that the cost has gone up by about 30 percent in stores and that most of this is due to rising shipping costs.
"We try to do our best to try to absorb some of the costs. In some cases, we're paying more for the freight than the product," he said. Phantom Fireworks has about 80 stores in the U.S., and they sell to thousands of other retailers. Weimer's colleague Alan Zoldan urged those clients to get their orders in early.
"Like many other industries, the fireworks industry has also experienced delays due to shipment challenges facing the global market," he said. "The good news is that we prepared early in anticipation of high demand again this year, and are encouraging Phantom customers to do the same."
Shipping executives from different companies around the world were able to corroborate this assessment, noting that this case, in particular, seems like a missed opportunity. Ed Vasel of the National Fireworks Association said: "What could be a booming business, it's just not happening. The people are there, the demand is there, the product is not there."
Those rushing out to pick up fireworks while they can are advised to check their state, local and federal laws ahead of time. Phantom Fireworks' website has a helpful hub with information for all 50 states. Independence Day in the U.S. falls on next Sunday, July 4.