Why Is There A Shortage Of Fireworks? Supply Chain Issues Scale Down Independence Day Celebrations
The global materials shortage has been bad news for virtually every sector of manufacturing, including consumer discretionary goods. In a testament to just how mangled supply chains continue to be, a shortage of fireworks meant U.S. Independence Day celebrations absent their usual spectacle.
With the pandemic’s end in sight, Americans were looking forward to gathering for a celebratory return to summer tradition. Instead, many were left with diminished pyrotechnic displays — if they got any fireworks at all.
Retailers ran low on fireworks
Last year, the United States imported 255 million pounds of fireworks, mostly from China. That number is predicted to plummet at least 30% this year. For 2021, IHS Markit research reports that the United States can expect to import approximately 76 million fewer pounds of fireworks.
In the past few weeks, fireworks prices went through the roof, and retailers were unable to stock their shelves. In advance of a normally profitable time of year, low inventory led some sellers to close up shop. Determined fireworks enthusiasts were forced to travel long distances for a fraction of their usual haul — at significantly higher prices.
Blame supply chains — again
The fireworks shortage is yet another disappointing result of supply chain bottlenecks. Only a few shipping firms will transport explosive materials, and even those can only offer limited shipping space. Increased demand for other products has exacerbated the issue by clogging shipping ports. Demand outweighs supply for many products — including fireworks.
Firework demand sent prices skyrocketing
Unable to fully stock their shelves, many firework retailers raised prices to protect their profit. Certain fireworks went for three times their normal consumer price. Even fireworks consumer brand Phantom Networks increased their prices by 15% to cover high transportation costs.
But the price increase didn’t deter consumers determined to celebrate the Fourth of July. People traveled hundreds of miles in hopes of getting their hands on fireworks. Supplies dwindled fast — driving costs even higher. On the eve of Independence Day, fireworks prices approached record highs.
The celebration did go on
This year’s short supply of fireworks may have frustrated Americans, but it’s important to focus on the positives. This time last year, most Americans were stuck inside and unable to spend the holiday with loved ones. Fourth of July events — with or without fireworks — were few and far between in 2020.
This year may have been short on sparkling spectacle, but most Americans were able to celebrate with friends and family. And there were even some fireworks shows to ring in the nation’s 245th birthday.