Many cities, such as New York, returned to hosting big public displays in 2021 after skipping 2020 due to the pandemic. AP Photo/John Minchillo
If you’re looking forward to shooting off bottle rockets and Roman candles this Fourth of July, I’ve got good news and bad news.
The bad is that fireworks prices are soaring this year along with pretty much everything else. The good news, however, is that at least you don’t need to worry about a shortage – there should be plenty of rockets, fountains and sparklers to go around.
In the U.S., regular people – as opposed to professional pyrotechnicians – typically light off the most fireworks around the Fourth of July, and so businesses import large amounts well in advance of the holiday to ensure a large supply.
The U.S. imported 185 million pounds of fireworks, mostly from China, in the first four months of 2022, the latest data available. That’s already 27% ahead of last year’s record pace. And this doesn’t even include figures for May and June, the two months that usually account for the biggest volumes in a typical year.
The figures include about 5.5 million pounds of fireworks for professional displays – which means that all but about 3% of these imports are intended for private consumer use. The 179 million pounds aimed at consumers already equates to over half a pound of fireworks for every man, woman and child living in the U.S – with more on the way. In all of 2021, the U.S. imported a record 1.25 pounds of fireworks per person.
More expensive fireworks for the expansive public displays cities typically put on come from countries like the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Poland and the U.S.
Unfortunately, the consumer price index doesn’t have detailed data on the cost people are actually shelling out for retail fireworks. But there is data on the price producers are paying for explosives, propellants and blasting accessories, which include fireworks. The latest data, for May 2022, shows prices were up 11% from a year earlier.
But I think it’s likely that this will lead to a glut in supply, and fireworks peddlers will be saddled with too many rockets for too little demand and may have to eventually lower the price to entice inflation-weary consumers.
So if you’re planning to shoot off fireworks as part of your Fourth of July celebrations, there’s probably no need to hoard them the way many people stocked up on toilet paper or baby formula. In fact, you might benefit from waiting and taking advantage of better deals closer to July 4.
It’s also smart to pay attention to how fireworks affect nearby pets and take some precautions to protect them.
Whether you are lighting fireworks, watching them illuminate the night sky or just hiding from the noise, I wish all of you a happy Independence Day.
Jay L. Zagorsky does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.