Leading grocery banner groups have stopped the sale of fireworks in its stores. But should other retailers follow suit, including those who have vendors in the car park?

"We had the cracker idea to stop selling fireworks at New World and Pak'nSave back in 2018," said Antoinette Laird, head of corporate affairs at Foodstuffs NZ. "But rather than go out with a bang, we excited quietly into the night. We're delighted to see other retailers follow our example.

Laird said that Foodstuffs had no burning desire to make a bonfire of the vanities about this decision. "Our intention was purely to (Pak'n)Save pets and little fingers the length and breadth of Aotearoa, and to ensure New World customers would see in the New Year without setting fires to our precious native bush."

Countdown has recently announced that it will no longer sell fireworks due to a change in customer sentiment, with 66 percent of customers indicating in a recent survey that they rarely or never buy fireworks for private use.

Almost half of those surveyed said they were buying less fireworks than two years ago.  Seventy-one per cent stated animal welfare as their most common reason for moving away from fireworks, with other reasons including fire safety concerns (49 percent), environmental reasons (30 percent), neighbour disturbance (34 percent), and personal safety (30 percent).

Scott Davidson, Countdown’s General Manager Merchandise, said this declining interest and conversations with their store teams led to the decision.

“Our customers have told us that while they still love to celebrate special occasions such as Matariki, Diwali, Chinese New Year and Guy Fawkes, backyard fireworks at home are becoming less of an occasion than they used to be.  We’ve decided to leave it to the professionals and we think the vast majority of our customers and our team will agree with this,” said Davidson.

SPCA CEO Andrea Midgen said SPCA does not support the private sale and use of fireworks and is pleased to see fireworks off the shelves at Countdown.

“Fireworks can be terrifying to animals, whether that’s on Guy Fawkes night or at any other time of the year.  Every year animals are injured, frightened, go missing or occasionally suffer abuse related to fireworks,” said Midgen.
Auckland Council’s Governing Body has agreed to proceed with a request to Government to introduce legislation to ban the private sale and use of fireworks after overwhelming support from Aucklanders.

Mayor Phil Goff said that the support by Aucklanders for banning private sales of fireworks was overwhelming and predominantly related to the impact of fireworks on pets and farm animals.

“There has been a clear shift in public opinion with many people now preferring public fireworks displays that mark New Year, Matariki, Chinese New Year and Diwali to private sales," said Goff.

“While the Government has said that it is not at this point ready to ban private sales, it is important that we share this insight into how Aucklanders feel about the issue and encourage Government to include this in their considerations."

Auckland councilor Cathy Casey said the time is now to ban the private sale of fireworks.

“Year-round, fireworks cause unnecessary distress and injury to people, animals, birds and livestock and misuse of fireworks puts huge pressure on emergency services through unnecessary fires, property damage and injuries.”

Regulations and bans have been in place around the world following an overwhelming reported number of accidents and injuries.