City fireworks sales rocketing despite global supply issues from China

Warren Thomas, managing director of Trafalgar Fireworks in Norwich

Warren Thomas, managing director of Trafalgar Fireworks in Norwich - Credit: Ben Hardy

Sales of fireworks are booming in Norwich despite global supply issues as a result of Covid and Brexit. 

Warren Thomas, managing director of Trafalgar Fireworks in Norwich, said the freight rate for a container from China has gone up from £9,000 to £35,000.

A lack of empty containers is causing the issue with Mr Thomas saying his Trafalgar Street business is still waiting for two containers ordered a year ago.

"It's all part of the Covid nightmare which will probably have an impact on stock for many years," Mr Thomas said.

"I think a lot of seasonal suppliers will struggle for stock but we order 12 months in advance and are already buying for 2023. We are covered."

Inside Trafalgar Fireworks in Norwich

Inside Trafalgar Fireworks in Norwich - Credit: Ben Hardy

Despite this national issue, the Norwich business has seen sales rocket with plenty of people keen to order packs for garden parties. 

Mr Thomas said: "It's crazy at the moment. We are working 24/7 and are on site 24 hours a day. I was expecting deliveries at 4am this morning so we are working around the clock.

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"The most popular is some kind of pack whether that is a small selection box or a big delivery pack." 

The retail store, which has been in the city for five years, has seen customers travel from as far as Glasgow to buy products.

Mr Thomas said 70pc of new year trade comes from eastern Europeans who have traditionally celebrated this for many years.

Warren Thomas outside the fireworks store in Trafalgar Street 

Warren Thomas outside the fireworks store in Trafalgar Street - Credit: Ben Hardy

The director explained: "Up to the millennium we never had a new year's trade. Eastern Europe has celebrated new year for decades while we have only recently caught on." 

Such feeling is shared by Alan Watts, director of Asteroid Fireworks, which has a pop-up shop in Thorpe St Andrew, and a permanent store in Great Yarmouth.

He said: "New year is becoming bigger than Guy Fawkes Night. People are getting out and celebrate more for new year as it is for everyone.

"Back in my day, there used to be 'a penny for the guy' and they would wheel out a straw Guy Fawkes but that seems to be all gone. It's all changed now.

"I think there are a lot of displays going on at new year and a lot of people are having parties and getting together." 

Mr Watts also said Eastern Europeans make up a high percentage of his custom, particularly in Yarmouth.

The director continued: "We had the pandemic last year which made it difficult with click and collect increasing but I think it has picked up this year.

"Average sales are £100 at a time with families getting together. 

"There tends to be a mad rush in the five days leading up to Bonfire Night. It's a slow build up to that every year." 

Big Boom fireworks display at Norwich Castle from City Hall. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Big Boom fireworks display at Norwich Castle from City Hall. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Ph

Selection boxes for home parties tend to be the most popular sale with garden products ranging from £20 up to £200 at the store.

And Mr Watts said he had not experienced any issues with supplies having ordered all of his stock in February. 

"I think there have been shortages along the way across the industry and the driver situation has caused problems," Mr Watts said.

"We could have been lucky to avoid it as we got in there early. We may have been short of a couple of items but nothing serious."

Both Mr Watts and Mr Thomas cater for private parties and retail so have not been affected by the uncertainty over whether big displays can go ahead with the lingering impact of Covid.

The Fireworks display at the 30th Norwich Scout Group in Tusting Close, Sprowston, has already been cancelled this year for example.

The Aldeby Spectacular features a pyromusical fireworks display choregraphed to pop tunes.

Fireworks sales are proving popular in Norwich - Credit: Ana Kryalova

A social media post by organisers said a decision had to be made "earlier in the year due to the uncertain times".

But other events, such as the Catton Park Spooktacular fireworks display and fun fair on Saturday, October 30, are set to go ahead.

Safety Tips for fireworks at home

Trafalgar Fireworks issues a safety guide leaflet for those purchasing products from the store.

It warns people to wear gloves and to use strong scissors to remove the metal banding and cage when unpacking the fireworks.

On the night of the display, users are advised to wear gloves, ear, head and eye protection and to avoid loose or unbuttoned clothing.

A safety guide leaflet from Trafalgar Fireworks in Norwich 

A safety guide leaflet from Trafalgar Fireworks in Norwich - Credit: Ben Hardy

Fireworks should be lit at an arm's length. 

Neighbours should be warned in advance of the display, especially if there are any young children, elderly or pets in the vicinity.

The safety guide adds: "Make sure the firing site is clear of any overhanging trees or similar." 

Anyone setting off the fireworks must be over the age of 18. 

And it is illegal to let them off after 11pm and before 7am with the exceptions of New Year's Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year (1am), and Bonfire Night (midnight).