High demand for fireworks during pandemic leads to shortage ahead of summer holidays

U.S.

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — This summer, an American tradition is threatened as fireworks will be in short supply, following a record-breaking year of sales.

Many business owners across the nation say last year customers bought so many fireworks they sold out stores and were forced to travel to find them. 

“People were driving from Gaylord and Indiana and Lansing. It was nuts. We probably had a hundred people in line at almost all times during the fourth (of July),” said Greg Johnson with the Fireworks Superstore in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “It was like nothing anybody has ever seen and it was almost a little spooky, and we thought maybe this year would go back to a little bit normal but it’s not.”

Johnson says he spent all of last year restocking his store in preparation for this year. He estimates customers bought about 70% of the fireworks in his shop. 

David Jewell, who owns GS Fireworks in Wyoming, says he sold out completely last year.

“Record sales last year because of COVID-19…people were locked up in their homes, they wanted to get out and do different activities, and what better activity to do than fireworks?” said Jewell. “I think we could see a repeat. Maybe some people are still skeptical about going to watch a downtown show in such a large gathering and people that never did fireworks, did them last year and they realized how much fun it is.”

Store owners say most of their product comes from China, and over the last year, factories there haven’t been able to keep up with the increased demand for fireworks. They say this has resulted in fewer fireworks going around, which is driving prices up for business owners and the consumer. 

“For people to make the same amount of money as last year, since they have less stock, they have to charge more money and the wholesalers are doing the same thing so the prices are just going up,” said Johnson.

Store owners also report significant issues with shipping the products to the U.S.

“The ports are backed up in Long Beach, California. That results in trains being backed up and there’s a shortage of trucks delivering these containers. It just keeps snowballing from one thing to the next,” said Jewell. 

Store owners say this issue could continue into next year and will likely have a bigger impact on sellers who run smaller, seasonal operations from tents.

“For the guys who aren’t proactive year-round, they’re really going to take a hit. Their margins aren’t going to be the way they were in the past years,” said Jewell.

Businesses are recommending customers head to the store earlier this year to score the fireworks they want most. 

“My big concern is we’re set up for this year because we took a lot of precautions, but next year we don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Johnson. 

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