Fireworks have become the latest item to be hit by Brexit supply chain shortages, with one company predicting a 70 per cent plunge in the industry-wide stock.
A wholesale company based in Doncaster has warned that there won’t be enough fireworks for the usual Bonfire Night celebrations, and that price rises are inevitable.
They blamed the problems within the industry on changes to product certification post-Brexit, a shortage of labour, and increased checks on imports.
Richard Hogg, shop manager at Fireworks Kingdom, said importing fireworks had become “very difficult and unstable in the wake of Brexit”.
He added: “Our industry is being hit particularly hard, receiving just 30 per cent of the usual annual supply.
“It’s gutting to see the shelves empty at stores across the UK when we’d usually be preparing for our busiest season. While we do have some stock, other stores haven’t been so fortunate. We’ve recently received 30 calls in a day from other fireworks stores, asking if we have any stock that can be sent over.”
Most fireworks are imported from China, and prior to Brexit, the UK could use a code associated with the manufacturing site in China to identify and trace the explosives as they made their way to British shelves.
However, now the UK isn’t within the EU, importers depend on whichever EU member state the explosives go through to pass on the code.
“Shipping companies are now asking for a £5,000 deposit per container, in case the EU member state denies our application to import from China via one of their ports,” Mr Hogg explained, “despite this route being a key way that many UK companies import.
“On top of shipping costs, we’re now looking at around £30,000 to £50,000 to import a container of fireworks – if we can secure a container in the first place.”
He predicted that Bonfire Night this year would have just 30 per cent of the usual supply.
“Ultimately, the increase in importing costs and reduced supply due to Brexit has started to increase the cost of celebrations for the consumer,” Mr Hogg said.
Secretary of the British Fireworks Association, Lawrence Black, said the situation was “a perfect storm”. He added: “Everyone here is down on orders. We’re probably getting a third less than what we ordered.
“It’s a really worrying year for the industry. There will be gaps on the shelves within the firework world.”
Chris Clarke, general manager of supplier Big In Fireworks, agreed, saying: “The shipping lines are so far behind, we’re just not getting stock into the country in time.
“As an importer, you just can’t get it in. I don’t think there’ll be any fireworks left after Bonfire Night for new year.”
A transition to different product markings for fireworks from 1st January 2023 has also impacted stock. Suppliers usually import their products far in advance of when they are intended to be sold because of the long shelf-life of explosives.
However, wholesalers don’t want to take the risk of stocking up on fireworks with the old product labels, in case they can’t sell them before the 2023 deadline.