Jun 15, 2022 - Economy

Fourth of July fireworks have "less bang" for the buck

Illustration of fireworks in the shape of dollar signs

Expect fireworks to cost more this year. Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

If you plan to shop for fireworks for the Fourth of July, brace yourself for sticker shock of 25–30%, one fireworks CEO told Axios.

Driving the news: There has been an “unprecedented demand” for backyard fireworks since 2020 when many cities and towns first canceled professional shows because of COVID, said Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association.

By the numbers: A key gauge of inflation accelerated by 8.6% from a year earlier in May, the fastest pace in 40 years, Axios’ Courtenay Brown writes.

  • Since 2019, the fireworks industry has seen shipping costs increase from $8,000 to $10,000 per shipping container to approximately $45,000 per container, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association.

State of play: Despite shipping delays and increased costs, there is more inventory this year than in the past two years, Bruce Zoldan, CEO of Ohio-based Phantom Fireworks, told Axios.

  • Phantom, the nation's largest consumer-based retail fireworks company supplying thousands of retailers nationwide, has sold out of fireworks in the last two years because of "extreme shortages," Zoldan said.
  • Some professional fireworks, including two Independence Day shows near Washington D.C., have been rescheduled due to a shortage of licensed pyrotechnic staff.

What they’re saying: Zoldan said the price increase and inflation could impact sales.

  • "We have no idea how they'll react based on all the other necessity items that they have to deal with like gas, food and everything else that has gone up tremendously,” he said.
  • "Even in recession years, people buy fireworks, and we don't see as much negative buying as maybe other businesses because people want to get together," Zoldan said.
  • Heckman believes most families have a budget for Fourth of July celebrations and that this year "people will most likely just get a little bit less bang for their buck."

What's next: While some shoppers started buying their fireworks in May, Zoldan said the average buyer hasn't shown up yet. Father's Day weekend usually kicks off the busiest firework shopping season, he added.

  • Phantom will have more than 1,500 seasonal stands in the week leading up to the holiday.
  • Since fireworks sold out across the nation last year, Heckman advises consumers to shop early to find the most selection.

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