BILLINGS - Fireworks retailers in Billings are noticing a lower supply of inventory compared to last year, which is a trend that is happening across the country.
This trend comes after the shutdown of fireworks and other plants in China due to the COVID-19 pandemic. George Reichenbach, general manager of Reichenbach Fireworks Co., said Monday that this year's storage warehouse is lower on inventory.
“There is supposed to be a 65% Fireworks shortage in the whole United States, which I think is coming true. If you look around the city of Billings in Montana, you'll see some stands that are from Nationwide companies like TNT, and they don't get as many fireworks and don’t look as full,” said Reichenbach.
Reichenbach said that for some products, he only had two cases delivered, which is a drastic change from the usual 50 or more cases. He said that every year he puts in all his orders at the end of July. The problem is that this year, many of those orders have yet to arrive and July fourth is just days away.
In Reichenbach’s warehouse, there are numerous shelves that are bare. He said in previous years these shelves would be filled to the top and there wouldn’t be much room to move around. Reichenbach said this has to do with the lack of supply as well as the increased demand from consumers. Many of the most popular products were bought right away. Other products, however, like assortment packs, are unavailable.
“They all want assortments, but I don’t have any because they're stuck on containers. Assortment packs and artillery shells and 500-gram cakes, the bigger cakes is what mainly goes out of here,” said Reichenbach.
While individual consumers are buying plenty of fireworks in Billings, they aren’t the only ones affected. Reichenbach’s brother Todd, is the president of Pyro F/X. He runs multiple fireworks shows in Billings and surrounding areas, including the popular Fourth of July show at MetraPark.
He said the supply shortage hasn’t affected the show, but it has caused prices to rise.
“For a supplier, it is a little bit tougher. This year, our product, most of it comes from China. They were shut down for a while. Getting the product over here has gotten much more expensive as well as being able to get it over here,” said Reichenbach.
He said that he is now having to pay 20% more for fireworks to supply the show and while this added cost totals up to a significant change from last year, according to Reichenbach, the show will go on in Billings.
“We do have the product out here, but we did have to pay a little more for it and we're still getting put on good shows,” said Reichenbach.