By Michael Evans
Beijingers are buying fewer fireworks for the Spring Festival this year, part of a nationwide trend in cities that saw more than enough smoke in the Year of the Dragon. The South China Morning Post reports:
Sales of fireworks from Tuesday to Saturday fell 37 per cent over the same period last year, from 410,000 cartons to just 260,000, Xinhua reported, citing figures from the city government. The capital authorised 1,337 firework stands this year, down from 1,429 last year, and allowed 750,000 cartons of fireworks to go on sale, down from 810,000.
Smog-choked citizens apparently need little prodding to go along with a series of official calls to cut down on fireworks to preserve the city’s air quality:
The Beijing Daily, the city government’s official newspaper, carried appeals last week for residents to hold off on firework celebrations, saying not doing so would significantly worsen levels of PM2.5 pollution forecast to be in the hazardous zone.
But declining sales are nothing new. Last year, the number of vendors dropped nearly 20 percent from 2011, as the capital’s government tightened restrictions on when and where fireworks could be set off, and banned the sale of certain dangerous pyrotechnics.
Beijing’s fireworks vendors are not the only ones taking a hit this year. One businessman who managed four firework stores in Chengdu told a local newspaper that he expected to be left with at least 20,000 yuan worth of unsold fireworks by the end of the Spring Festival, and estimated that 70 percent of fireworks vendors would lose money this year.
In Shanghai, fireworks set off over the new year’s weekend caused the city’s PM2.5 level to spike dramatically.