July 4th is rapidly approaching, and social gathering is happening all over. In a normal year Americans start stocking up on all sorts of fireworks and sparklers to celebrate Independence Day! The covid pandemic however has caused a shortage for all sorts of random things like toilet paper, guns and ammo, lumber, chlorine, fruit trees and now add Pyrotechnics to that list. Seeing as more than 130,000,000 people in the U.S. are finally fully vaccinated, which means they can take off their masks and gather like they used to before the pandemic, per new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The fireworks or pyrotechnic industry is facing a "massive product shortage." In fact, more than 60 percent of the fireworks ordered by companies in the U.S. for 2021 will not actually arrive this year because of the shortage. Yes, that equates to a 6-month waiting period if my math works.
Imports from China, where more than 90% of the world’s fireworks are manufactured, have plummeted as the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered many factories there. As a result, Chinese exports dropped to near zero in January and the United States imported 75% fewer fireworks in all of 2020 compared to 2019. China’s production of fireworks generally increases during the winter months, but that may not be possible this year due to the closed factories and with an increase in all United States holiday shows, wedding venues, and sporting events, China only produced 10% of what they normally produced in a non-covid year creating a massive shortage and back order for 2021!
In the Wildlife Management industry our shipments of pyrotechnics (Flashers, and bangers) have been delayed for almost 4-6 months at a time by our vendors due to an increase in demand, decrease in production, and outrageous shipping costs. How bad are the shipping costs? Well shipping costs have increased by more than 100 percent over the last year, which has contributed to the looming fireworks shortage. The increased costs have come from freight surcharges of $1,000 to $5,000, and additional charges added by ports in China. Many distributors tried to wait until the freight prices were low again, creating a massive fireworks shortage that our industry has never seen before. Other additional factors contributing to the shortage include the Suez Canal disruption, port closures in Canada, the pandemic's temporary shutdown, and new restrictions for production at Chinese firework factories.
If you look at the transportation industry which is in complete shambles after the world was temporarily shut down. The global transportation system is really in a wreck. Ports are backed up and ships are not moving the way they should. How is that going to impact the Fourth of July? Yes, a lot of people are going to be let down but in the Wildlife Management Industry where we depend on these as tools to prevent wildlife strikes on an airport it is now becoming a growing concern. The shortage is occurring at a time of increased demand. The American Pyrotechnics Association said last year the fireworks industry saw the highest consumer revenue in 20 years bringing in $1.9 billion. However, what does that mean for 2021? Empty shelves.
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