Friday Five

The Friday Five: Fireworks for the Fourth

July 3, 2020

The U.S. fireworks industry has experienced unprecedented growth during the past 15 years according to the American Pyrotechnic Association (APA) with sales steadily climbing year over year.  

In 2019, according to the APA, professional display firework revenues reached  $375 million, whereas consumer firework revenues reached $1 billion for the first time, pushing the industry’s total to almost $1.4 Billion. 

Fireworks are a hyper-seasonal industry, typically receiving 80% to 90% of revenue for the year over a one to two-week span. This tiny window of opportunity requires lots of supply chain planning and coordination which begins over 14 months in advance of the celebrations.   

Nearly all consumer-grade fireworks are manufactured in China. Fireworks headed for the U.S. market arrive at an ocean port carefully packed in a cargo container. Once stateside, the container will travel overland to distributors throughout the US domestically. In total, this process takes about 30 to 45 days of transit time from when the shipment leaves the warehouse in China to when it hits a U.S. supplier’s dock door. From there, it’s broken down into smaller shipments and staged or disbursed to its final point of sale or professional show when ready. 

Naturally, the fireworks industry is very heavily regulated. The Consumer Products Safety Commission mandates things like maximum ratios of certain powders, warning labels and fuse burn times while, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration regulates things like packaging content, transportation and storage. 

Professional-grade display fireworks go a step further and are classified as 1.3G explosives. These cannot be transported by common carriers and require a vehicle and driver with Hazmat certifications. Professional-grade display fireworks must also be stored in approved magazines licensed and inspected by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Traditionally, during the crunch times leading up to the Fourth of July, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offers a transportation waiver that reduces some required HOS regulations and ELD mandates. The exemption is effective from June 28 through July 8 and is the result of thousands of rental trucks needed to make deliveries in time for over 16,000 professional shows normally. The firework industry essentially dominates the rental truck market during this time of year. 

Firework Sellers were already planning for higher demand than in 2019, as this year’s holiday falls on a Saturday, but most demand planners would have never predicted anything close to COVID-19 happening for July 2020. 

As we’ve seen entertainment shift from going out to staying home or simply celebrating in the backyard, firework consumption has shifted from professional to consumer sales channels as well. 

According to Julie Heckman, president of the APA, providers of professional fireworks displays are hurting as many local shows have been canceled, while consumer firework sellers are seeing huge gains, with some already reporting jumps of 200% to 300% in sales. 

For 2020 demand, purchase orders would have been placed as early as April of 2019. And, like everything else in 2020, firework consumption has been dramatically impacted by COVID-19.

Consumer supplies are tight so safely stock up tonight and take a moment to appreciate the journey that little explosive has been on. 

Here are our top 5 firework effects and their names to help guide you through this weekend.  

1. Willow

The effect first creates a star that is then followed by trails hanging from the center – similar to what a willow tree looks like.

2. Crossette

The effect is about a crisscrossing effect of the light projectiles shooting in different directions. You often have multiple colors at once, creating an overlapping medley of colors.

3. Brocade 

The effect is fast and loud – the stars that burst from the explosion go straight and flat all over the place. The effect can be enhanced with different colors and glittery effects.

4. Dahlia

This effect creates a shell-like finish without the trailing stars. It also has fewer starbursts and they tend to be rather sizable. The dahlia effect can be spherical and cylindrical shaped at the finish.

5. Kamuro

In terms of the names of the effect, nothing beats Kamuro. While the others on the list are effects named after animals, plants and flowers, Kamuro is named after a Japanese hairstyle. That’s right, the effect of the dense burst with glittery trails is all about the hair.

Before using fireworks, find out what’s legal in your state by checking the state law summary for your state by clicking here.

Thanks for reading! Have a great and safe weekend!

Don’t forget to check out last week’s news. Come back next week for the next Friday Five roundup!

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