Firework consumers can expect less bang for their buck this year


Sequence 0400 00 18 16still001RAPID CITY, S.D. – With the Fourth of July holiday falling on Monday this year, rising gas prices and travel costs more people plan to celebrate at home over the long weekend reports the National Retail Federation, costing up to 40 percent more than a year ago.

Fourth of July traditions are some of the best memories for many families and it wouldn’t be Independence Day without fireworks.

According to the American Pyrotechnic Association (APA), families across the U.S. are expected to spend $2.3 billion on fireworks this year.  Unfortunately, the price of fireworks has gone up 35 percent nationwide, due to supply chain issues, higher freight costs, and inflation.

“The rising cost of supplies and raw materials has risen conservatively at approximately 20%, increasing the cost of producing safe, high-quality pyrotechnic products. Insurance has significantly increased during the past year including product liability, auto, truck, and hazardous materials insurance. Transportation costs have dramatically increased as well. Gas prices are the highest since 2015, almost doubling from just over a year ago for diesel fuel,” said Julie Heckman, Executive Director, American Pyrotechnic Association.

“The entire fireworks industry is faced with these challenges and overall costs are up more than 35 percent across the fireworks industry. As the industry prepares for unprecedented demand and a post-pandemic full recovery in Independence Day celebrations, it remains to be seen if small operators can weather the escalating costs for such seasonal business,” she said.

Supply chain issues began in 2020 with COVID-19. China’s zero-COVID policy, which has led to long lockdowns in major cities and suspended operations in factories, businesses, and schools, has created supply chain chaos in the fireworks industry.

“Ninety-nine percent of the backyard consumer fireworks come directly from China and about 70 percent of the professional display fireworks are manufactured in China,” said Heckman.

Tom and Michelle Skoog, owners of Big Fireworks in Rapid City and seven other locations in Rapid Valley, Swett, Angostura, Ft. Pierre, Black Hawk and Box Elder order the majority of their inventory directly from China with no guarantee that the items will arrive before July 4th. Smaller items, in smaller quantities are ordered from warehouses here in the U.S.

“It’s always a concern when your bringing stuff across seas, from China, because all the things crazy things going on in the world. We’ve been pretty fortunate. We’ve gotten all but one container, but it’s, it’s been a challenge at times and, and you can’t really count on any of it until it shows up at our door,” said Tom Skoog. “We get about four shipping containers a year from China and then a couple of truckloads of random stuff just to make sure we got a little bit of everything so that whatever you’re looking for, you can find it on one of our shelves.” 

The American Pyrotechnics Association said it could be a challenging year for small operators who sell fireworks given the escalating costs which are mostly attributed to supply chain challenges and higher freight rates. They report that average cost to ship a container of fireworks from China to the U.S. was approximately $10,000 in 2019.  This year that cost has ballooned to more than $45,000.

Americans bought more fireworks than ever in 2021. The APA reports that Americans consumed 428.8 million pounds of fireworks last year, the highest on record. However, display fireworks were down to 12.5 million pounds, the lowest number since 2000.

More: Where to watch the best Fourth of July fireworks in the Black Hills in 2022.

Last year, the industry faced a nationwide supply shortage with high demand, slow shipping from China, and many shipments arriving after the season ended. A handful of places are well-stocked with leftover products, but prices are still going up, and some items may still be hard to find.

Rising fuel costs also directly impact the industry’s transportation of containers from ports to warehouses that supply small operators. Heckman said all of those costs will likely be being passed along to the end consumer.

“There’s been a moderate price increase, but we’ve tried to eat most of it. It’s just due to the shipping. Shipping is more than tripled. So we have a lot of budget stretchers and deal busters, and we do we’ve created a rewards program. So when you come in here and you spend a little money, we’re going to give you some free stuff on on top of that, just so you can get a real good bang for your buck,” said Skoog.

The APA expects consumers to spend $2.3 billion on fireworks this year.

Big Fireworks reports that they have good inventory with many popular items in stock including artillery shells and fountains – including a new one this year called Unicorn Farts – a 25 shot firework.

The APA believes that the Ocean Shipping Reform Act – co-sponsored by Representative Dusty Johnson that was signed into law on June 16 will help alleviate many of the industries supply chain issues for next year’s Independence Day celebrations.


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