Resolved supply chain issues clear path for fireworks fun

Steve Corbett (left) of Sidman and Cliff Markel of Beaverdale shop for July 4th at Keystone Fireworks of Altoona. Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski

Despite supply and demand issues, Americans bought more fireworks than ever in 2021.

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, total consumption for 2021 was 428.8 million pounds, the highest total on record.

Consumer fireworks were at 416.3 million pounds, also the highest on record.

However, display fireworks sales were down to 12.5 million pounds. in 2021, the lowest number since 2000.

“Demand for consumer fireworks was unprecedented over the past two years during the pandemic,” said Julie Heckman, APA executive director. “The supply chain has been a challenge. We are in good shape this year. A great variety of products will be available.”

Supply chain issues appear to have been resolved.

“There are a lot more options available for consumers this year,” said Sherri Simmons, spokeswoman for Florence, Ala,-based TNT Fireworks.

“There are some items we have problems getting, but we are better stocked than we have ever been,” said Joyce Knepp, owner of Kylertown-based Kneppy’s Fireworks.

However, Kevin Shaub, owner of Lancaster-based Keystone Fireworks, said there could be a few issues.

“I don’t think that we are looking at a shortage. Some supplies may be arriving late. Some of the smaller retailers will experience a shortage. We have enough size and volume so we are well stocked,” Shaub said.

However, fireworks are more expensive this year.

“Inflation overall has had a significant impact on that. The shipping cost of importing fireworks from China has increased threefold. Production costs have also gone up, raw materials and packing costs,” Heckman said.

With fuel prices hitting record levels, more people might stay at home and that could help local dealers.

Fuel prices might have an impact, said William Weimer, vice president of Youngstown, Ohio-based Phantom Fireworks.

“On the other hand, it may limit people taking their vacations and stay home and do their own shows and not travel for July 4,” Weimer said.

Shaub agreed.

“The Fourth of July is not the Fourth of July without fireworks,” he said. “More people may stay at home and have their own shows in their backyards and not pay the high prices for gas and motels.”

Knepp said she is not sure how high fuel prices may impact her business.

“In 2008, when we had high fuel prices, we found out that we did better sales than in many years. People couldn’t afford to go on vacation and did parties at home. … I am not sure how this is going to play out,” Knepp said.

All agree it is best to shop early.

“Buy early, don’t wait until the last minute,” Simmons said.

“We have a good inventory, our shelves are full, and our storage trailers are full. We will start selling out,” said Bill Dutil, owner of Freedom Fireworks, East Freedom. “If you don’t shop early, you will be standing in line to buy and you have to fight the crowds.”

Dutil said they will be running four cash registers after June 30 to keep up with the demand.

“It turns into a madhouse,” he said. “At the end, it is like Black Friday.” Shaub said customers will be amazed at the selection available.

“To see how far fireworks have come in the last 10 years, they would be amazed,” Shaub said.

Fireworks injuries — the numbers are based on injuries per 100,000 pounds — have fallen.

“When we started tracking this in 1994, it was 10.7%. Last year it was down to 2.7%. The absolute lowest number of injuries since we started keeping track. Last year was the highest in total consumption but yet the lowest on injuries,” Weimer said. “One injury is one too many, but the trend with injuries is phenomenal.”

Weimer urged consumers to use common sense, only let adults take care of the fireworks and always have a designated shooter who is sober.

“Alcohol and fireworks combine to make a bad result. Respect what you are doing, and you should have a good safe show,” Weimer said.

TNT Fireworks has launched a new safety campaign focusing on the safe disposal of fireworks.

“Let Your Fireworks Take a Bath” reminds consumers to soak their fireworks in a bucket of water after use.

Carson Anderson, president of TNT Fireworks, said, “When your show is over, and the fireworks have cooled, completely submerge them in a large bucket of water and soak until thoroughly saturated. Smaller used fireworks should take a bath for at least an hour, while larger ones need to soak as long as overnight.”

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 814-946-7467.


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