How Much Do Americans Spend on Fireworks?

Group of friends celebrating holding sparklers.
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The pandemic ushered in a new golden age of sales and revenue for the fireworks industry. In times of tension and high anxiety, nothing feels better than blowing off a little steam with the last legal explosives. 

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You can find a reason to illuminate the night any time of year, but thanks to July 4, summer is fireworks season — and cash registers across the country are lighting up. 

Here’s a look at what America spends on its most explosive summer pastime.

During the Pandemic, Fireworks Sales Rocketed Skyward

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA), American consumers bought 260.7 million pounds of fireworks in 2015, not including display fireworks. It was the most of any year between 2000 and 2019.

The pandemic changed everything. 

In 2020, the country shattered that record by purchasing 385.8 million pounds of fireworks to blast their pandemic blues away. In 2021, the record was crushed again with 416.3 million pounds sold. 

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Again, that was just personal-use pyrotechnics.

In terms of total consumption, the country smashed all records with 404.5 million pounds in 2020 and 428.8 million pounds in 2021, despite record-low use of display fireworks in both years. 

For context, the next highest was 285.3 million pounds in 2015. 

In the 21st century, consumer fireworks revenue slowly and steadily ticked up from $407 million in 2000 to $1 billion in 2019. In a single year, that number nearly doubled to $1.9 billion in 2020 and then jumped to $2.2 billion in 2021.

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Surprise, Surprise — Fireworks Are More Expensive in 2022

Thanks to the economy-wide shortages and supply chain crunches that defined 2021, the cost of retail fireworks was up by 25% around this time last year compared to July 2020, according to NPR.

According to a Philadelphia ABC affiliate, prices are rising again in 2022. Instead of shipping delays and shortages, however, fireworks are more expensive this year because of the familiar theme of inflation. If you’re looking to light up the sky this summer, you can expect to get between 10%-35% less bang for your buck this Independence Day.

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None of that, however, is stopping Americans from adding their own flair to the heavens. The APA expects the country to spend $2.3 billion on fireworks this Fourth of July.

Cost of Fireworks Shows

According to Premier Pyrotechnics, a Missouri-based fireworks company, a typical small-town or community fireworks show lasting 10 to 20 minutes costs between $2,000 and $7,000. Fireworks pyromusicals, which have large amounts of fireworks synchronized to music with computers, cost $1,000 to $2,000 per minute, typically exceeding $20,000.

While $20,000 is nothing to sneeze at, it’s small potatoes compared to the more elaborate fireworks displays put on by major corporations and metropolises. Macy’s puts on the largest fireworks show in America, and in 2022, barges on the East River will fire 1,920 shells per minute from 96,000 pounds of steel mortars — that’s 48 tons.

There’s no word on the exact cost, but last’s year’s event ran about $6 million. 

Of course, backyard fireworks shows are much cheaper than the fancy displays broadcast around the world on TV. At the online store for Captain Boom Fireworks LLC, a six-pack of “Window Shaker” rockets costs $19.99, up from $11.99 last year.

If you want to go really big, the “Storm Front Assortment,” which contains 200- and 500-gram cakes, repeaters, Roman candles, novelties and fountains, is listed at $629.99.

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Andrew Lisa contributed to the reporting for this article.

About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.

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