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Why fireworks are in short supply this 4th of July

Posted at 4:32 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 09:18:09-04

MECHANICSVILLE, Va. -- Fireworks are in short supply for the Fourth of July this year.

"Uncle” Frank Hall, who runs Big Blast Fireworks in Mechanicsville, said he began buying fireworks for the 2021 season on July 5, 2020.

“Last year, we had people calling us the 5th and 6th of July but we literally sold out,” Hall said.

Uncle Frank stood outside his Atlee Road fireworks stand dressed head to toe in Americana waving to passing cars. He’s sold fireworks for the last 20 years.

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Hall and his business partner, Krissi Cecil, feared they may run out of supply again this year.

“I reckon before Fourth of July it’s going to be slim pickings under here,” Cecil said. “But, I’m hoping people shop early so they have the best selection.”

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Uncle Frank said he would like to purchase more fireworks, but the big warehouses reported to him that they are out of stock.

Dr. Jeff Smith, who studies supply chain analytics at VCU’s School of Business, explained most fireworks are made in China.

“It takes weeks to months to get across the Pacific Ocean to the port of Los Angeles,” Dr. Smith said. “In the port of LA, what you’re experiencing now, there are lots ships that are waiting off the coast. Because they actually don’t have space and workers that are currently active to go and offload the ships.”

Even if the shipping containers were unloaded on the West Coast, it would still take days or weeks before the supply arrived on the East Coast.

Smith blamed supply shortages, high demand, and limited manpower for the issues.

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Smith warned that building supplies like lumber, paint, and steel are also in short supply. So is chicken, chemicals to make plastics, microchips, and even ketchup packets.

“We are in it for another six months to a year at least,” he said.

Cecil urged you to buy your fireworks early before their supply goes up in smoke.