Bonfire Night firework stocks hit by supply issues and delays caused by global shipping problems as November 5 nears
Fireworks are the latest in a long list of items to be hit by supply and shipping issues which may see stock for November 5 celebrations significantly reduced this year.
A multitude of problems connected with the supply and delivery of the pyrotechnics could lead to customers finding there are shortages and higher prices this autumn.
Norman Wilkinson from Kent-based Ghengis Fireworks says he estimates there could be between 30% to 40% fewer fireworks as a result of a number of issues currently connected with getting stock into the UK.
A combination of problems including delays in the Suez Canal, a worldwide shortage of shipping containers which are now in the wrong places, ships queuing to get into overloaded busy ports or carrying and holding medical supplies connected to the pandemic together with only one port in the UK currently receiving and processing hazardous goods like fireworks, have all contributed to a significant slow down in imports.
With the majority of fireworks brought in from the Far East, Mr Wilkinson says a temporary closure of factories in China during 100-year anniversary celebrations for the Communist Party in July also made shortages worse while UK supply and delivery issues with other products, such as food, means the only containers being granted any form of fast-track clearance are for essential items - further adding to traffic jams and delays.
He said: "We will be fine, but there will be an awful lot of companies not getting their stock."
Firms and staff working within the fireworks industry have experienced a tough 18 months, just like many other businesses.
Numerous lockdowns caused by the pandemic have meant many large-scale events, concerts and other displays have not gone ahead affecting both company incomes and resulting in extra costs to safely and properly store fireworks which haven't been used over the last year.
Alongside additional warehouse costs to hold onto stock, as companies only import once a year, Mr Wilkinson, who is based in Chatham, says a staggering 450% increase in the cost of shipping also hits hard.
However, because fewer big events using fireworks having gone ahead since March 2020, Mr Wilkinson believes this year's larger, public displays won't be as affected by the shortages.
Instead it may be customers wishing to buy smaller amounts for more private gatherings who are among those which might notice problems with availability, choice or a rise in price.
He explained: "There's a lot of companies that have got some stock. Some stuff has been hanging around from stock last year.
"The bigger displays should be fine as most of the events last year didn't go ahead. In terms of professional products, a lot of people are sitting on that."
While firms are attempting to absorb some of the sky-high rises in shipping costs it is inevitable some increases will eventually have to be passed onto customers.
Ghengis Fireworks, which supplies to organisations and companies for displays at schools, golf clubs and other attractions, alongside both shop and internet-based sales, suggests there could be a 30% increase in retail prices to reflect the current difficulties.
But Mr Wilkinson, who says he has containers currently at sea and on their way to Rotterdam ahead of their arrival in the UK, anticipates, that while times may be hard now, eventually the shipping situation will improve and find a 'new normal', issues such as those caused by the pandemic will become less problematic and companies will be able to get themselves back on track.
He said: "It will get better through time. When there's some order of normality with shipping."
Safety information, storage guides and procedures for a safe and happy Bonfire Night are available to read on the Ghengis Fireworks website, click here to read more.