You might have a hard time buying fireworks this July 4th. Here’s why.

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This year’s July 4 celebrations are expected to take place as revelers celebrate independence from COVID restrictions. But rather than a big bang, fireworks can be more of a firework display as retailers struggle to keep store shelves fully stocked.

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, fireworks inventories are about 30% below normal levels nationwide at a time when products are difficult to import and demand for rear fireworks. court increases. The consumer fireworks industry in the United States nearly doubled during the pandemic, reaching $ 1.9 billion in revenue in 2020, from $ 1 billion the year before.

American Fireworks’ Tomball store is now stocked, warehouse manager Jason Davis said, but the company’s distribution warehouses across Texas are empty. He said many retailers they normally sell to have difficulty finding enough fireworks to sell.

“At the moment it’s just naked,” he said of the warehouses. “There isn’t much available.

“Retailers sold so much last year that they ran out of stocks and couldn’t catch up,” said Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association.

Fireworks production was delayed earlier in the pandemic when Chinese factories closed, Heckman said, but more importantly, the pandemic created a ripple effect that disrupted the supply chain. Many containers of ordered fireworks have never been packed, others have fallen from overloaded ships into the ocean, and many more are languishing in California ports waiting to be unloaded.

The delays come amid continued supply chain disruptions that have delayed delivery of everything from auto parts to camping gear. Deliveries of all types of merchandise, especially those made in China, have been disrupted by increased demand from retailers looking to stock depleted shelves as the economy picks up.

Ben Trieu, owner of American Chinese Fireworks on South Sam Houston Parkway, said he had to go to extraordinary lengths, scouring the state to make sure his shelves were fully stocked.

“I usually get 60 containers and so far this season I have only received 10,” he said, noting that he had three containers docked at a port in Long Beach for three months.

Valmir Nazifi, one of the owners of Elite Fireworks Supercenter in west Houston, said the company is partnering with Chinese manufacturers on its own brands, giving it an advantage in sourcing. Yet, he said, the expedition was “a total nightmare”. His company ordered 17 containers ahead of the fireworks season, which started last week, but only received nine.

“We have less variety just because some items haven’t arrived,” he said.

“You just hope and pray for products, because anything that comes in will likely be sold,” said Davis of American Fireworks. His company operates 15 stores in Texas.

It is an uneasy feeling to know that the shelves will not be easily restocked on time, he said. “Fireworks people – we only have a few weeks a year to get it out of the park.”

Department store shelves are expected to be stocked this week, but many small roadside stores will not have enough inventory for the season, retailers said.

“There will likely be fewer of these little roadside stalls because they can’t get the product,” said Sue Davis, spokesperson for TopDog Fireworks, which has 14 stores in Texas. “We try to encourage everyone to shop early because we don’t want people to come in the last couple of days and have their favorite fireworks gone.”

July 3 and 4 are normally the most important days for TopDog, she said, but the company is offering early bird discounts to get people in earlier.

Transportation and logistics costs have tripled in some cases, Heckman said. “Almost everyone is feeling the pressure of this product shortage.”

Retail prices at TopDog have gone up about 9% to help cover rising shipping costs, Davis said, but not for early adopters who are getting discounts.

On Thursday, the first day of fireworks season, Lizzie Biddlecome said she was surprised to find only a few boxes of Black Blade, her favorite brand of “cake” – a type of fireworks display for many. shots – left on the shelf of the Supercenter Elite Fireworks. . Another item she normally receives costs around $ 10 more than before, but that wasn’t enough to put her off.

Detric Harvey said he came on July 4 last year and the store was under attack, so when he heard about the fireworks shortage he figured he better come earlier this year.

“I want to check what they have at least before they sell out,” he said.

Undeterred by talks about the shortages, Mike Puzyk made several trips to Elite on Thursday, stocking up for a 20-minute show with over 100 cakes and 200 boxes that he and his neighbor are putting in their neighborhood of Katy. All in all, he said he spent around $ 1,500 on the day’s transportation, but he’ll be back after he starts designing the show and figuring out what additional items he might want to include.

“We’re like children in a candy store,” he says with a smile. “We’ll probably make three or four more trips.

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