July 4 Fireworks Spending Explodes Thanks to Wetter Weather Around U.S.

  • Share
  • Read Later
James Forte / National Geographic via Getty Images

Want a sign the economy is heading in a better direction this summer? Americans says they’ll spend 60% more than last year on travel, BBQs and fireworks this July 4.

According to Visa’s annual Independence Day spending survey, Americans plan to spend 58% more on the holiday than in 2012. And that’s even including the fact that July 4 falls on a Thursday this year, which AAA says will lead to slightly fewer Americans on the road. Last year, Visa’s survey respondents said they planned to spend about $190. This year, they’re likely to spend around $300, according to the survey.

(MORE: How Kids Will Help Decide the Future of Television)

Nat Sillin, Visa’s head of U.S. financial education programs, says the increase is a sign the economy is continuing to recover and is in line with a number of recent surveys the financial services company has conducted recently. Its annual prom spending survey, for example, found that for the last two years families have planned to spend more than the year before on the high school rite of passage.

Still, prom spending was only up 5% from 2012. It’s unclear why estimated July 4 spending is so much higher than last year, but it appears that U.S. families feel as if they have more discretionary income and are more willing to use it than in years past.

According to the National Retail Federation’s annual Independence Day survey, a quarter of Americans said they planned to purchase additional “patriotic merchandise” in the 30 days leading up to the holiday. Only 14% said they’d do the same in 2009.

(MORE: The Happiness of Pursuit)

While gas prices remain high, consumers don’t seem to be letting it affect their summer plans. While travel is expected to be slightly down from last year thanks to July 4 falling on a weekday, two-thirds of NRF’s survey respondents said the price of gas would not affect their summer travel plans, up from 55% in 2009. About 41 million Americans will still hit the road for the holiday.

More Americans also say they’re planning to cook out or have a picnic, watch fireworks and attend a parade more than in previous years, according to NRF. Collectively, we’ll spend close to $2.4 billion on cookouts this year (spending on average $60 per cookout) while downing 150 million hot dogs.

Fireworks vendors in particular are preparing for a profitable holiday and are already seeing a big jump in sales from last year. After a drought that affected much of the U.S. last year, slightly wetter weather is giving fireworks sellers reason to think that this summer will be better for business. One vendor in Missouri, a state hard hit by last year’s drought, said 2012 was one of the worst years for fireworks sales he’s seen in more than three decades, according to Kansas City’s Fox 4 News. “Very few fireworks companies actually made it,” he said. Similarly, vendors  across the country, including in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Alabama, Michigan, South Dakota, Indiana and Maine are already seeing big jumps in fireworks sales from last year. All told, Americans will likely spend at least $600 million on fireworks this year.