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Why fireworks prices are higher this Fourth of July

Fireworks are seen behind an American flag.
AP/Julio Cortez
Fireworks are seen behind an American flag in New Jersey.

Americans looking to celebrate July 4th with some fireworks could be facing some rough sticker shock.

Supply chain issues and rising shipping and labor costs have led to inflation rates not seen in decades, and the fireworks industry is warning that it has not been unaffected.

The trade group the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) released a report earlier this year stating that overall costs are up more than 35 percent, which could pose a challenge for sellers. 

“Unfortunately, we had to pass some of the price increases on to the public,” Bruce Zoldan, head of the distributor Phantom Fireworks, told USA Today for an article published Thursday, ahead of the Independence Day weekend. “I would say from 2019 till ’22, [costs] have at least doubled.”

A variety of factors have contributed to the increase, most prominently shipping costs, which since have risen from between $8,000 to $10,000 per shipping container to $45,000 per container, the APA report states. 

China is responsible for the vast majority of fireworks imports to the United States, according to an analysis from the market and consumer data company Statista. 

The total value of Chinese bottle rockets, roman candles and other fireworks that entered the U.S. in 2020 was more than $350 million. Spain came in a distant second with a total value of $3.6 million. 

Domestic shipping and rental costs have also soared, with truck and auto rental prices doubling from a year ago as a result of limited supply and high demand, according to the APA.

The group also says that the cost of raw materials has risen about 20 percent. 

Labor costs and insurance costs for product liability, auto, truck and hazardous material have also risen, adding to the overall price hikes. 

Record gas prices have elevated transportation costs, and an increase in the cost of diesel fuel specifically has affected truckers bringing containers to warehouses.

Gas prices surpassed $5 per gallon on average last month, reaching a new record before dropping slightly in the latter half of the month. Diesel prices reached a record $5.81 per gallon last month and have stayed near the record since.

“If you want to avoid the crowds, if you want to make sure that you get the colored sparklers that you want or the right fountain that you watch, you have to shop a bit early or you just take a chance of what is running low,” APA President Stephen Pelkey, the owner of Atlas Fireworks, told USA Today.

Tags American Pyrotechnics Association Bruce Zoldan fireworks Fireworks Fourth of July gas prices Independence Day Inflation July 4th July 4th weekend shipping costs Supply chain supply chain issues

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