Shortages and backlogs on standard goods and services have become so commonplace that consumers might pass an empty shelf without comment these days — though some shortages are easier to stomach than others.
With America’s birthday right around the corner, the latest critical shortage will impact many a celebration. That’s because U.S. retailers are running out of fireworks.
According to NBC News, last year’s record-breaking sales of fireworks will fizzle this year as the fireworks industry warns supplies are down by about 30%. According to an IHS Markit report cited by NBC, the U.S. can anticipate a shortfall of around 76 million pounds of fireworks.
One of the challenges facing this product category has to do with shipping. Most of the fireworks sold in America are imported from China, but due to their explosive nature, they’re only accepted by certain shipping firms. The ships themselves can then only dedicate certain portions of their ships to housing hazardous cargo. Besides widely reported bottlenecks in container shipping, NBC says logistics companies have been catering to their larger customers, like big retailers, who have steadier volumes, leaving seasonal products jockeying for space.
This could mean the small fireworks businesses that pop up this time of year won’t stay open long — or won’t offer the variety they had in the past. And if you do find fireworks, says the report, expect to pay more. On average, the price of standard July 4th goods will be 30% higher.
Perhaps worst of all for enthusiasts is that shiploads of fireworks are reportedly sitting idle offshore at some of the busiest and most backed-up U.S. ports, just waiting to be unloaded.