(CBS/CNN) — Add fireworks to the list of items that are going to be more expensive this year — if customers in states where they are legal can find them at all.
For the second year in a row, fireworks shortages are leaving shelves empty and hiking prices leading up to the holiday weekend. Consumers should be prepared to stock up early and pay more this year if they want July 4th fireworks, Alan Zoldan, executive vice president of Phantom Fireworks, told CNN Business.READ MORE: Volunteers Gather To Clean Up Trash In Boston's Muddy River
“If you pay the same amount, you’re going to get less. There’s no question in my mind,” Zoldan said.
In Massachusetts, it’s illegal to use, possess or sell fireworks. Fines for violating the law can be as high as $1,000, with a possible penalty of a year in prison for some violations. Massachusetts State Police are stepping up patrols on the state line to confiscate illegal fireworks.
According to the state Fire Marshal, the State Police bomb squad saw a 63% increase in calls for fireworks from 2019 to 2020.
In Boston, police saw complaints go from about 1,500 in 2019 to 21,000 complaints in 2020.
Phantom has stores in Seabrook, Hinsdale and Londonderry, New Hampshire.
As the economy has reopened and started to recover from the pandemic, supply chains have struggled to keep up with demand, leading to shortages and congestion at ports. For the fireworks industry, which relies on shipments from China, the result has been a “very, very tight bottleneck for the industry,” Zoldan said.
Even without the additional pressures of a recovering economy, the fireworks industry already sat in a “secondary position” because fireworks are considered hazardous goods, according to Zoldan. Now, the industry is struggling with fewer shipments and more expensive containers.READ MORE: Attleboro Animal Shelter Says Driver Deliberately Ran Over 5 Geese On Route 123
The challenges aren’t just limited to importing goods to ports. Part of the industry’s challenge is the ongoing labor shortage in the United States, which is further slowing down fireworks deliveries and contributing to limited inventory.
“There’s not enough dock workers. There’s not enough capacity…there’s not enough truckers,” Zoldan said.
Last July 4th, the fireworks industry had a record-breaking season, nearly doubling its previous sales. While sales were a great boost for the industry, there have been lasting effects, according to Zoldan.
“It reduced the inventories not just for our company, but for the entire industry to the lowest levels on the consumer side that we’ve ever seen and created.”
For customers, all of this means fewer deals, lower inventory and higher prices. Historically, customers who came looking for fireworks in the days before July 4th could find goods in showrooms. This year though, things aren’t so promising.
“I do see shortages at the end. My advice is certainly to get there as early as possible,” Zoldan said.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CNN’s Moira Ritter and Annie Hager contributed to this report.)MORE NEWS: Large Search Underway Near Newburyport Boat Club For Missing Man Kevin Mahoney