Sales of fireworks during the ongoing Spring Festival holidays have been tepid this year in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, echoing a nationwide slump that has dampened profit prospects, an employee of a local pyrotechnics wholesaler told the Global Times Saturday.
The lackluster momentum this year is due to several factors, including a ban on lighting fireworks by local government-related entities as well as in-school education advocating fewer fireworks to curb air pollution, said an employee of Zhejiang Jing'an Fireworks Sales Co, a local representative for Shanghai-listed Panda Fireworks Group Co.
She did not give specific sales figures because she said the firm will not close the books for the season until February 24, the last day of the Spring Festival, and it expects to see returns of unsold products.
Orders for this year had to be placed early in 2012, before the downturn was expected, she said.
Panda Fireworks was not immediately available for comment.
A proprietor of a fireworks retail stand in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, surnamed Wang, said that he sold only 30 percent of his inventory between February 9 and 13 and was still facing a loss, whereas during the same period in the previous years, his sales had already covered his costs, china.com.cn reported Saturday.
Beijing sold over 313,000 cartons of fireworks from February 9 to 14, down by 45 percent compared with the corresponding days of 2012's Spring Festival, the Beijing Times reported Saturday, citing official figures.
"The slump in firework sales in Beijing was mainly caused by people's concerns about smog," which has become severely harmful and received widespread press coverage since December, Li Jingguo, a researcher at the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times Saturday.
But Li said the concern about fireworks' contribution to the smog is overblown.
Instead, Li said, emphasis should be placed on daily supervision of heavy industries and better coordination of regional controls over atmospheric particulates.
Meanwhile, Guangzhou, which banned private fireworks 20 years ago, canceled an 18-year tradition of the municipal government staging a public fireworks display on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, Xinhua reported.
Apart from atmospheric concerns, government belt-tightening is another reason behind the cancellation, since 2012's display cost taxpayers 10 million yuan ($1.6 million), or nearly 10 percent of the city's total annual budget, the report said.
The central government recently initiated a campaign against wasteful spending by local governments, which may have contributed to the slim-down of fireworks displays in some Chinese cities this year, Zhu Weiqun, a professor at the School of Public Economics and Administration of Shanghai University of Finance & Economics, told the Global Times Saturday.
"There needs to be a public decision-making mechanism on setting up publicly funded fireworks displays," which should prevent pyrotechnics graft, Zhu said.