With the 4th of July approaching, many are getting ready for travel, cookouts, and the All-American Fireworks Spectacular. But with supply chain issues and inflation ravaging the economy, the cost for Independence Day celebrations is higher than ever, and many fireworks displays across the country are being canceled as a result.

The National Retail Federation reports that 84% of Americans have plans to celebrate the 4th this year, with over a third signaling that they’d like to see fireworks. Those planning cookouts are feeling the squeeze of inflation, with the highest per-person spending ($84.12) on food in a decade. They may also be finding themselves disappointed about access to nighttime entertainment options.

2021 Saw Unprecedented Fireworks Demand and Shortages

Demand for consumer fireworks skyrocketed in 2020 after many shows were cancelled due to COVID-19. In 2021 there were major shortages as a result. Amid increased demand, pandemic-related shutdowns in China (where nearly 95% of fireworks in the US are produced) and other supply chain woes created major backlogs, with retailers only being able to receive around 65% of their orders. Professional displays fared slightly better in 2021, as many organizations were largely covered by stockpiles from 2020’s cancelled shows.

Now in 2022, professional and consumer displays alike are in peril.

Bored on the 4th of July

Despite continued sporadic shutdowns affecting production in China, shipping logistics seem to be the major driver of shortages and increased prices for fireworks in 2022. Many retailers have reported only receiving 20-25% of their shipments from China. With the shortage on shipping containers and strained port capacity due to worker shortages, overall costs are up 35%. From pre-pandemic levels to today, prices for imported fireworks have at least doubled.

With dramatic increases in pricing, limited availability of professional-quality fireworks, and a dearth of trained technicians, many communities have no option but to cancel shows. For much of the west coast and southwest, chronic drought conditions are also a contributing factor.

While you may not be able to find a local display, the big boys always find a way. With the considerable resources at their disposal, Macy’s was able to procure supplies for one of the largest displays in history, with 50 pyrotechnicians coordinating 96,000 pounds of steel mortars to launch 1,920 shells per minute over the two-hour show in New York City. Macy’s annual 4th of July Fireworks display will air on NBC and stream on Peacock. You can tune in there if your local display gets canceled.

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