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Fireworks inventory limited amid national shortage

Published: Jun. 28, 2021 at 3:11 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - You may not get as much bang for your buck when it comes to buying fireworks this Independence Day. Vendors say there’s a national shortage and the prices are skyrocketing.

Vendors and distributors all say there are a number of factors leading to the shortage. It’s partly due to increased regulations for factories in China and cargo ships anchored off the west coast unable to unload.

“When COVID hit, a lot of the factories [in China] closed down,” said the owner of Class A Fireworks, Chris Moncourtois. “And China has been increasing regulations on their manufacturing. These are very strict regulations and it resulted in a lot of the factories being closed up.”

The popularity of home fireworks displays during the pandemic has also drained warehouses.

Vendors say because of the lower-than-usual inventory, shoppers should be prepared to spend a little more than usual.

“Prices have gone up a little bit,” said Grady Jarman, a Wilmington TNT operator. “They have been affected and that’s, of course, going to be a supply and demand kind of situation. They’re still reasonable and we still can make things work. People can still have a whole lot of fun with what we’ve got to offer.”

After a jump in at-home displays during the pandemic, U.S. warehouses are empty. Tighter regulations overseas and shipping delays off the west coast mean imports are harder to come by, too, leading to a nationwide shortage.

“We’ve got a little bit less inventory than we usually do, specific products that we just can’t get right now,” said Jarman.

It’s not just your driveway displays feeling the pinch. Large companies that put together displays for large events are turning down jobs because they can’t meet the demand with their current inventory. Moncourtois says he’s still waiting on a shipment that he ordered in November.

“This time of year is 100% about logistics: people, inventory, equipment, transportation,” said Moncourtois. “Make sure you don’t over-commit and you’re not able to produce what you’re obligated to do.”

Despite the shortage, those in the industry say they’re not worried. Moncourtois says he has enough fireworks to last him until next year and smaller vendors like Jarman say there’s still enough to keep him afloat.

The possibility of vendors selling out is a good possibility, so it’s a good idea to get your fountains and sparklers before it’s time to light the fuse.

“Judging by the way things are going, I think it’s going to be a good year,” said Jarman. “That’s why we have to stress getting here early and making sure you get what you want.”

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