OKLAHOMA CITY — In an effort to help charities bolster their profits, Oklahoma lawmakers have decided to allow fireworks retailers to stay open longer over the Fourth of July holiday.
Under Senate Bill 635, which went into effect Monday, licensed fireworks retailers can now sell from June 15 until July 6 or the first Sunday after July 4 — whichever comes first.
Previously, the state required retailers to shut down by July 6. (State law continues to allow year-round sales by licensed manufacturers, distributors or wholesalers.)
State Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro, who authored the measure, said more people are running fireworks stands to raise funds this holiday season.
“This is to help them kind of get rid of their inventory, so they don’t have to turn as much back in and to make a little bit more money on their projects,” he said.
Julie L. Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, said consumer firework sales this year could exceed $1 billion if there’s good weather over the long weekend.
Firework sales revenue increased steadily from $407 million in 2000 to $945 million in 2018, she said. Eighty to 95 percent of that was generated during the Independence Day holiday.
Heckman said she predicts “a banner year” for sales as long as the forecast remains favorable.
“So far, sales are off to a really strong start,” she said.
Since 2000, there have been efforts nationwide to relax fireworks laws for consumers, she said. Still, most states surrounding Oklahoma have specified sales periods.
Missouri, for instance, allows sales from June 20 through July 10, while Texas permits sales from June 24 to July 4, according to the association’s analysis of state laws.
“Extending sales through the holiday weekend is positive as many families will celebrate with backyard (barbeques) and fireworks on the long holiday weekend,” she said in an email.
Some Oklahoma fireworks retailers, though, said they don’t expect the change to increase their profits too much.
“Adding a few days isn’t going to make that much of a difference because most of our sales are up to the Fourth and on the Fourth,” said Bill Rector, who owns Fireworks City in Muskogee. He’s been a wholesaler and retailer for 52 years.
Rector said he runs sales after the holiday, but those are hit and miss. Most post-Fourth sales are designed to clear inventory ahead of the next holiday, he said.
Wanda Moses, manager of Jake’s Fireworks in Norman, said the law change won’t affect her business because it’s a licensed wholesaler.
“It wouldn’t affect us because we could stay open year-round in our building,” she said.
Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.