Fireworks biz booms despite statewide bans

Record $662M spent on fireworks in 2013

Fireworks are a nearly $700 million business annually in America, with July 4 bringing out the inner pyromaniac in many people.

Not all states allow citizens to ignite their own backyard illuminations, but that doesn’t seem to be hurting what’s clearly a booming business.

Last year, consumer fireworks spending went up by $17 million from 2012’s figures, according to data gathered by the American Pyrotechnics Association. Overall, $662 million was spent on consumer fireworks while $328 million went into professional fireworks displays in 2013, both record numbers.

Despite their recent uptick in popularity, fireworks are hardly a new way to ring in the Fourth of July. “A grand exhibition of fireworks,” were used to ring in the first Independence Day on July 4, 1777 in Philadelphia, according to American University researcher James R. Heintze.

The colorful explosives also mean big business for overseas manufacturers. The U.S. Census Bureau’s foreign trade statistics indicate $213.8 million worth of fireworks were imported into America in 2013, with a large majority coming from China.

Setting up a thunderous display at home can be a pricey way to celebrate the holiday. Online seller American Fireworks offers products including a 252 shot unit called the Winda Jester’s Revenge for $249.99, that’s about one dollar per explosion. For the same price, the company offers a strip of 16,000 firecrackers, ensuring no one in your neighborhood will sleep for days.

Ohio, the state where American Fireworks is headquartered, is one of four in the U.S. that have a partial ban on consumer fireworks sales. Illinois, Iowa, Ohio and Vermont each allow only sparklers and other novelty items, according to the APA. Four other states including New Jersey and New York, have banned all consumer fireworks.


As expected, injuries continue to be a side effect of consumer fireworks useage. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 7,400 fireworks-related emergency room visits happened between June 21 and July 21, 2013. The APA contends that injury reports are blown out of proportion though, citing stats that show barbecue grills and curling irons causing more injuries every year.

Eight fireworks-related deaths were reported last year but according to the CPSC, those fatalities could have been avoided if users had followed safety precautions.

“In each of the eight fireworks-related deaths recorded in 2013, the victim was manipulating (or was a bystander to someone who was handling) a banned, professional or home-manufactured device,” according to a CPSC study.

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