Fireworks sales kick-off with a bang in Central Texas thanks to COVID-19 cancellations
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Fireworks sales kicked-off Wednesday with a bang, the result of many July Fourth celebrations being cancelled due to COVID-19 and related social distancing measures, experts say.
"This was the biggest opening day we ever had," said Jeff Coffee with American Fireworks. "And we're expecting a 50 percent increase in total sales over this holiday period."
Pyrotechnic industry experts predict consumer fireworks sales will be at all-time high as a lot of people celebrating Independence Day 2020 will have to create fireworks displays of their own.
While fireworks are inherently dangerous, fireworks stores and stands now also pose a potential threat with crowds of shoppers who can spread the virus.
"We have had a large increase in numbers coming in," said Debra Cahill, Superstore Coordinator for American Fireworks. "People are coming out much faster and sooner."
With 13 stores and more than 100 stands, American Fireworks is the largest retailer in Central Texas, and officials say safety--not just with handling fireworks, but also now with COVID--is their top priority.
"We're certainly spraying down all the baskets, we have our social distancing 6-foot signs on the floor that we're following, we've put up the protective screens to shield our employees and customers at the register, our customers will be wearing masks and we have hand sanitizer," said Cahill.
Cahill was in charge of opening day at the company's store in Lorena where she said customers seemed excited to navigate new July Fourth traditions.
"We certainly want to be here to help them plan to have a memorable holiday, but also a safe one," said Cahill.
In order to ‘be there’ without becoming a hot spot for the virus, however, many retailers like AF are now offering online sales and curbside pickup.
"We want to make it easy for them, but for us to be able to do that, we need them to contact us early so we can get those orders ready for pickup," said Cahill.
Ordering and shopping early is the key to avoiding the crowds and steering clear of the virus, Cahill says.
"We are encouraging people to come out early and get that behind them so they beat the rush," she said.
Fireworks will continue to be sold through midnight on July 4.
Copyright 2020 KWTX. All rights reserved.