This year, several major cities are dropping the fireworks. But at Svea’s outlet in central Oslo, sales are booming – despite problems with deliveries from China.
It is buzzing in the small, colorful room in the middle of Oslo city center. A steady stream of customers disappears from Svea’s fireworks store with small and large packages of pyrotechnics under its arm.
Aftenposten meets André Bolstad on his way in. On the shopping list is a package with various fireworks for the family’s New Year celebration. Korona means that this year they will only be two children and two adults.
But they must have fireworks. It will be lit up from the garden, an annual tradition. Bolstad is not alone. Norwegians buy fireworks like never before, we must believe figures from 2020.
New Year’s Eve is the only day of the year where private individuals are allowed to send up fireworks without special permission. But the annual colorful light show rarely comes without both debate – and mishaps.
Lower claims figures since 2008
At the beginning of the 2000s, the damage figures were high both in terms of fires and personal injuries caused by fireworks in connection with the New Year celebrations.
Then, in 2008, the Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning (DSB) took action. Then the use of stick rockets was banned.
Both the number of injured people and property damage then dropped drastically and stabilized at a lower level. On average, 75 percent lower for personal injuries and 45 percent lower for property damage, according to figures from DSB.
In the last ten years, an average of about 51 accidents have been reported annually in connection with the New Year celebrations. And approx. An average of 15 people get eye injuries each year due to fireworks.
At last year’s celebration, ten people sustained eye injuries. Of the ten, three were seriously injured. In the other seven, the injuries were moderately serious, according to Haukeland University Hospital.
Several cities are dropping fireworks
This year, several major cities are dropping their public fireworks on New Year’s Eve. This year, as last year, the municipal fireworks in Oslo have been canceled. Last year it was about infection control. This year, the city council has simply not set aside money.
This means that people in the capital must be responsible for the fireworks themselves. And it is only outside Ring 2 that it is allowed to shoot it up.
Outside the Svea store in central Oslo, Aftenposten also meets the couple Lynetta Taylor Hansen and David Kolden. They have only bought shooting stars, but tend to enjoy the municipal fireworks. They think it’s a shame that it has been canceled this year.
– I love watching it and think it is much better that the public spends some money on shooting up fireworks in a few places. So if it is cut out permanently, it is very sad, I have really appreciated it, says Hansen.
They themselves have small children, and it is therefore inappropriate to go out and fire up yourself.
Trondheim, Drammen and Kristiansand have also canceled their launches – due to the corona. While in Bergen, Tromsø and Stavanger, all indications are that the fireworks will be launched as normal.
About one in three will ban private fireworks
Faith in tradition also rages the debate about fireworks, this year as last year. And the year before there.
This year, 40 organizations, professionals and political parties have backed a joint call for the new government: to introduce a ban on private fireworks to protect people, animals and the environment.
The Norwegian Association of the Blind, the Green Party and Socialist Youth are among those who support the demand. See the full list her.
A new survey shows that 64 percent completely agree or somewhat agree that it is right to ban private fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Among these, 36 percent completely agree that fireworks should simply be banned.
The survey was conducted by Norstat on behalf of the Norwegian Society of Engineers and Technologists (Nito). 1009 respondents participated in the survey.
The main reason why people want to ban private fireworks is that it contributes to fire and personal injury (58 percent answer this), followed by fireworks scaring animals, both in private homes and in nature (27 percent answer this).
At the same time, modern technology has made it much easier to create magnificent light shows in the sky in new ways. Hundreds or thousands of drones flying in formation is a solution that has been used with great success in several places, such as here in Guangdong in China in 2020:
Problems with deliveries from China
Nevertheless, the fascination with the burning glitter rain does not seem to diminish at first. Last year, importers were able to report a sharp growth in fireworks sales – with an increase of 20 percent from 2019 to 2020.
This year’s figures, however, will not be as sparkling. But it’s not about declining consumer interest.
– This year will be a special year. This is mainly due to problems with deliveries from China. Much of the fireworks we were supposed to sell this year are at sea and will not arrive until January and February, says spokesman for the Norwegian Fireworks Association, Rikard Spets. He adds:
– It’s a bit like getting last year’s newspaper in the mailbox, we only sell fireworks between Christmas and New Year, he says.
The problems are linked to the global supply crisis that has been going on ever since the corona pandemic hit the world’s ports and factories. Thus, the industry will probably notice a decline in turnover from 2020 to 2021. There are simply not enough goods to meet demand. And the buffer stocks were used up last year.
This does not mean that the sky will be devoid of fireworks when 2021 slides into 2022, Spets assures. You should have a trained eye to notice the difference. The reduced offer will probably mainly be felt by the industry itself.