Yes, I said it. The Real Time Economics blog didn't want to go there, but I will (which is probably reflective of the reason I don't write for The Wall Street Journal). In any case, there are hints at a rise (a boom) in firework sales this year. In South Dakota, it appears that patriotism is still highly valued and not something Americans want to cut back on:
As the national economy slows, local fireworks sales are sparkling despite rising product costs, business owners say. "Our average sales have actually increased," said Kevin Lorenzen, the president of Pyro City Fireworks near Tea on Interstate 29. "It is up about 6 to 7 percent." Other Sioux Falls fireworks distributors witnessed similar increases. The rises reflect sales to residents of other states. State law restricts South Dakota citizens from purchasing fireworks until Saturday, a week before the July 4th holiday.
(There is certainly a blog post in there on the ridiculousness of allowing citizens from outside the state to come in an purchase something instate residents can not, but that will be for a later time.)
The owner of Lantis Fireworks, based in North Sioux City, said he thought the economic downturn would hurt sales. Don Lantis said current sales estimates prove otherwise. "I'd say they're up at least 10 percent," said Lantis, whose company operates a retail outlet between Sioux Falls and Brandon on Interstate 90. Dan Raderschadt, the president and owner of Lew's Fireworks in Watertown, said his company has observed a 5 percent to 10 percent growth in sales compared to this time in 2008.
So the question is, why are fireworks valued enough to be recession proof? Meanwhile, local governments are scaling back celebrations as the revenues to provide the public good are thin this year. More on the story from the Real Time Economics blog.
(There is also a post in there questioning the common wisdom of fireworks being a public good, since it seems people are still getting them. Perhaps the value in a firework is not the colorful explosion, but the act of setting up the artillery and celebrating with others as they are launched into the sky. But again, for a later time.)