A fireworks shortage has prices surging and customers racing to stock up ahead of the Fourth of July weekend

Shoppers look through fireworks for sale at Sky King Fireworks in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, U.S., June 24, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Shoppers look through fireworks for sale at Sky King Fireworks in Morrisville, Pennsylvania Reuters
  • Fireworks are in short supply this year, as high demand meets supply chain snags.
  • Several vendors have already run out of fireworks and many have hiked prices.
  • Customers are lining up to stock up on fireworks ahead of Independence Day.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A fireworks shortage has left many customers scrambling ahead of the Fourth of July.

One fireworks vendor in South Dakota told News Center that stores have been packed with Americans rushing to stock up while supplies last.

“It was crazy, I mean we had lines all the way around the building,” Tom Skoog, the owner of Big Fireworks said.

Fireworks are the latest casualty of the supply chain crisis, and vendors say they’re struggling to keep the product in stock.

Mark Joseph, a Sparky’s Fireworks Outlet owner in Michigan, told local news the company has not been able to replenish its inventory, which usually carries over between seasons, and expects it could take years for vendors to build back.

“We’re only able to get about 50% of what we needed and that’s the whole United States,” he said.

Last year, demand for fireworks hit a record high, as COVID-19 shutdowns forced Americans to create their own light shows. The buying frenzy caused vendors to sell out early last year and depleted supplies for 2021.

“Unless shipping picks up, supplies aren’t going to last until the Fourth [of July],” Wesley Shediger, the general manager of Shelton Fireworks in Richmond, Indiana, told Insider.

William Weimer, vice president of Phantom Networks, one of the largest consumer fireworks brands in the US, said his company has only been able to avoid the shortage so far because it ordered supplies in August, before the shipping crisis began.

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While demand for fireworks is high this year, importing the product from China has become increasingly difficult for suppliers. Weimer told Insider that Phantom Fireworks has faced months of delays. The global shipping container shortage has made it more expensive to transport products from China, especially for items like fireworks, which are classified as dangerous goods and given less allotted space on freighters.

He told Insider that transportation costs for Phantom Fireworks more than doubled this year, forcing the company to hike prices for the second year in a row.

“Prices are going up across the board,” Weimer said. “It’s impacting everyone in our industry. Nobody expected this hangup in logistics. We have companies that have never worked with us before coming to us for supplies. People are scrambling to get supplies, and we just have enough to stock our own shelves.”

Earlier this year, Superior Fireworks announced they were increasing their prices about 15% this year – the highest the company has ever had to hike prices in its 20-year history.

Many vendors are encouraging shoppers to stock up on fireworks early while supplies last.

“As a result of port delays and global container shortages, there are some product limitations and significant cost increases,” Sherri Simmons, spokesperson for TNT Fireworks, told Insider. “TNT Fireworks encourages customers to buy fireworks early to ensure the best product selection.”

Many shoppers have taken the warning to heart, pushing another panic-buying frenzy ahead of Independence Day. One Florida customer told News 4 he traveled 1,352km to stock up on $2,300 worth of fireworks.

The shortage is unlikely to impact professional fireworks displays. A spokesperson from Young Explosives, a New York professional firework producer, told Insider the company has a surplus of supplies, as many public fireworks events were cancelled in 2020.

Fireworks are one of many products in short supply this summer. From gas to hot dogs, chlorine and vacation homes, global supply snags may make your Fourth of July look different this year.