DAYTONA BEACH — Like everything from gasoline to groceries, the colorful boxes of fireworks for Micah Pollitz’s homegrown July 4th celebration are more expensive this year, but that hasn’t stopped the Ormond Beach resident from stocking up for his family’s holiday party.
“This is my second time back here this week,” said Pollitz, 27, as he strolled aisles stacked floor to ceiling with shells, sparklers and Roman candles at Sky King Fireworks on International Speedway Boulevard. , because she cut me off. ”
Pollitz had plenty of company this week, as shoppers flocked to fireworks stores in Daytona Beach to equip themselves to contribute to the rockets’ red glare of the upcoming holiday weekend. The rush reflects a surge in interest nationally in retail fireworks sales that continues to be strong following a significant jump in the wake of COVID-related cancellations of large gatherings two years ago.
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At the height of the pandemic, revenues generated by fireworks sales exploded from $ 1 billion in 2019 to $ 1.9 billion in 2020, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association. Even as public fireworks displays returned a year later, individual fireworks sales increased to $ 2.2 billion in 2021 ..
This year, the association anticipates another uptick to $ 2.3 billion.
As he shopped the selection at Sky King in Daytona Beach, Pollitz reflected the attitude of many customers that inflation wasn’t going to dampen the holiday. He expected to spend about $ 300 on fireworks this year, taking home roughly the same amount of merchandise as always to entertain his wife, and 3-year-old son, he said.
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The cost of one of Pollitz’s go-to items, “Culture Shock,” increased from $ 90 a year ago to $ 115 for the assortment of 25 color shots, he said, but Pollitz still made the purchase.
“I had to get that,” said Pollitz, who works as a roofer. “It was my favorite last year. Yes, it’s gone up, but it’s just like everything else. This is only one day a year.”
For retailers, shipping costs skyrocket
The July 4th customer influx started a bit later this year but has continued to build toward an expected rush over this coming weekend, said Joe VanOudenhove, managing partner of Sky King Fireworks, a company that owns and operates 20 stores in Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Indiana.
“We’re definitely seeing a strong demand for fireworks again this year,” he said. “We’re expecting it to increase over the next few days. With the Fourth on a Monday, it should be a very busy weekend.”
Although Sky King has solved supply chain issues to keep shelves fully stocked, shipping and logistics costs have skyrocketed, causing the price increases that have been noticed by customers, VanOudenhove said.
“The stuff inside the containers is now cheaper than the cost to ship the container,” he said. “Our cost of logistics, of ocean shipping from China, has increased by 300%. We can’t absorb that cost.”
The same factors also have resulted in higher prices at beachside Phantom Fireworks on South Atlantic Avenue, but that store also has been busy, said manager Connie Smith.
There, customers on a recent afternoon filled shopping carts with items bearing such colorfully over-the-top branding as “Untamed Retribution” ($ 149.99), “Thermal Explosion” ($ 69.99) and “Mineshell Mayhem” ($ 89.99).
Inflation didn’t stop customer Ron Davey from stacking dozens of boxes of fireworks high on two industrial-sized rolling carts for an Independence Day family reunion of his six children and three grandchildren in Ormond Beach.
His $ 2,267 purchase earned him a spot on a tally board near the store’s cash registers that tracks the day’s biggest spenders. However, it only ranked as the third-highest total, behind an earlier customer’s whopping $ 3,359.
“I’ve never ever bought this many fireworks, but I’m glad to be able to do it for the kids,” said Davey, 57, owner of a corporate events company. “We’ve been blessed. The good Lord has smiled on us. We couldn’t do this if He wasn’t watching over us all the way. ”
Chitwood: fireworks safety is a concern
Not everyone is as excited about the prospect of an array of homegrown fireworks shows over the holiday weekend.
In his years in law enforcement, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood can recall numerous instances where amateurs working with fireworks have been injured or worse.
“I have seen many situations where people mishandled fireworks and lost their hands,” Chitwood said. “We had an incident recently where someone lost their life setting off fireworks. There was an explosion of a mortar that peppered this guy with shrapnel.”
“Use common sense, follow the directions,” Chitwood said. “Be very careful when firing around trees and rooftops, because you can easily set your house on fire or set your neighbor’s house on fire.”
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It would be even better, he said, if residents leave the pyrotechnics to the pros at one of the many public celebrations county wide.
“Let the professionals set them off,” he said. “Bring a beach chair, hang out with the family, have some snacks, have a great time.”
Fireworks prohibited on Volusia beaches
In Florida, the added interest in home fireworks has been kindled by a state law passed two years ago that makes it legal for the public to use fireworks on the July 4th holiday, one of three occasions permitted annually that also include New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
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Despite the state law, use and possession of fireworks remains prohibited on Volusia County beaches according to county ordinance, said Andrew Etheridge, the county’s director of Beach Safety.
“They are still illegal to even possess on the beach,” Etheridge said. “People think it’s a good place to set off fireworks because of the sand and the water, but we have massive crowds on these holidays. Beyond the legal aspect of it. , it’s dangerous to do that with large crowds around. ”
Those caught with fireworks on the beach can have them confiscated or face arrest for violation of a county ordinance, Etheridge said. At the same time, he acknowledged that Beach Safety Ocean Rescue officers are vastly outnumbered, making the ordinance hard to enforce.
Typically, a massive amount of fireworks litter and debris needs to be removed from the beach the day after the holiday, he said.
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“It’s one of our No. 1 producers of trash and litter on beach as far as the day after holidays — the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve,” he said. litter makes it into the ocean. The beach is not a good place for that type of activity. ”
Here are guidelines for fireworks safety from the office of Jimmy Petronis, Florida’s chief financial officer and state fire marshal:
• Light one firework / sparkler at a time and never relight a dud.
• Beware of allowing young children to play with sparklers.
• Keep pets indoors.
• Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
• Only purchase approved sparklers found on a list maintained by the state fire marshal’s office.