Fireworks sales booming nationwide because of COVID-19
By Kelly Tyko
The next COVID-19 shortage could end up being fireworks.
With cities across the nation canceling public displays this Independence Day, sales of fireworks are booming as more families opt to put on their own shows.
“Fireworks sales have been unprecedented and stronger than ever in the history of my being in this industry, and I’ve been in it for 50 years,” said Bruce J. Zoldan, CEO of Ohio-based Phantom Fireworks, which has approximately 80 stores throughout the U.S. and supplies thousands of retailers nationwide.
Since around mid-May when states started phased-in reopenings, Zoldan said sales have shot up and have not slowed down. He said the company was planning on a 15% increase in sales this year, but estimates sales are around 115% higher than 2019.
The American Pyrotechnics Association also is predicting a record year in consumer fireworks sales, said Julie Heckman, the association’s executive director.
“We anticipate that more families than ever before will bring the celebration home to their backyards this Independence Day and that’s because all of the public displays by and large have been canceled,” Heckman said in an interview with USA Today.
But the reason for the increase in sales isn’t only because of the holiday, which falls on a Saturday this year.
“People are using fireworks every night across the country right now and I believe that’s totally related to the pandemic,” Heckman said. “People are bored and have been in lockdown mode for over three months ... and they’re looking for some affordable entertainment at home.”
Will fireworks sell out?
There’s not expected to be a surplus of fireworks available by Saturday and some varieties are already sold out in some parts of the country.
July 3 and the holiday are historically the busiest days of the year for Phantom and competitors, Zoldan said.
“Unfortunately, we’re not going to have enough inventory to carry us through the entire first four days of July,” Zoldan said. “We expect that there will be a lot of empty shelves or partially empty shelves. Whoever shops late will end up buying whatever we have left over. It won’t be a lot.”
Noise complaints, sales of illegal fireworks up
Cities throughout the nation, including New York and Boston, have reported higher-than-usual calls of illegal fireworks compared with previous years with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announcing a new task force to investigate and crack down on the displays.
Noise complaints are up nationwide, too.
In Milwaukee, complaints about fireworks have grown more than 600% as people report hearing periodic small explosions on an almost daily basis, reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, part of the USA Today Network.
Micaela A. Watts of the Memphis Commercial Appeal and the staff of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contributed to this report. Follow USA Today reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter @KellyTyko.