Retailers have a number of reasons to be cheerful this fireworks season. For starters, Bonfire Night falls on a Wednesday this year, meaning that they have three sales peaks to look forward to: the weekend before; Bonfire night itself; and the weekend after. With ‘value’ being a key word this year, Hancocks has swallowed some raw material cost increases to maintain margins for its customers. “We can offer an abundance of deals and bogofs on fireworks, with prices starting at 99p,” says Hancocks purchasing director Richard Brittle. Hancocks has introduced plenty of new products this year to help independents compete with the multiples. “Our range is deliberately wide,” he says. “Multiple stores tend to offer a very narrow range and so independents can really take offer a strong point of difference. “A good selection of fireworks can act as a strong draw for existing and new customers, who will buy from other categories when they visit to purchase their fireworks,” he adds. New for 2008 is the Medicine Man Multishot, with a wholesale priced of £2.75 and available on a buy one get one free deal at Hancocks. Also on a bogof is the new Thriller Selection Box (12 fireworks) priced at £4.49, while Nighthawk comprises 12 screeching rockets with mini colour-mixed pearl explosions priced at £2.49. The team at Black Cat Fireworks has also been busy and national sales manager Ian Line says that more than 25% of this year’s product range is new. Latest additions include the Constellation Rocket Pack – nine assorted rockets at £19.99 per pack, and the Mission to Mars – a barrage firework with a flurry of multi-coloured comets and crackle effects, rrp £24.99. Line adds: “Our message to anyone who hasn’t yet placed their orders is come and talk to us to ensure that you get the best fireworks and the best deals.” So what do customers want? Well, single-ignition fireworks are becoming increasingly popular. These fireworks only need to be lit once and provide a long-lasting display. Two of Black Cat’s most popular single-ignition fireworks are Colossus (65 seconds, rrp £79.99), and Grand Finale (90 seconds, rrp £99.99), which gives a display of 166 aerial shots. Party Packs are also expected to perform well this year and Hancocks has a wide range varying from £50 to £150.
Legislation update
● You can sell fireworks for the three weeks before November 5. All retailers can sell fireworks from October 15, but you need a special licence to sell them all year round ● Do not sell fireworks to under 18s – it is illegal for anyone under 18 to buy fireworks or even carry them in public ● The rules changed in 2005 for measuring the weight of fireworks that retailers are allowed to hold. In the past this was measured by the weight of the firework, but it will now be measured by the weight of the explosive content (NEC). The new maximum weight is 250kg NEC. As a rough rule of thumb the NEC weight is about one-quarter of the weight of the total packaging ● Retailers are responsible for preventing fires and explosions. This means they must prohibit smoking, keep hazardous or flammable material such as video cassettes or hosiery away from fireworks, and keep exit and escape routes clear ● Conduct a risk assessment for storing fireworks. For retailers employing more than five people, this must be a written document.