Industry responds to dramatic helium prices rises

The latest set of helium price rises and restrictions came into effect yesterday (Monday 1 July) and will be affecting both the cost and availability of balloon gas over the coming months.

The balloon and party industry has been dealing with the results of the current global helium shortage for some time now, with much of 2019 seeing suppliers issuing significant price increases right across the board. The most recent rise – which has been applied by BOC on a nationwide basis, with Air Liquide set to follow suit in the coming weeks – has increased prices by up to 50% in some cases.

The average price rise is expected to be around 15% and will also includes further supply restrictions, in addition to the one-in, one-out canister policy it first issued in early May.

Balloon artists and party retailers have been looking for a number of alternative solutions, including focusing on air-filled designs to reduce their reliance on helium.

“I knew there was going to be an increase but I was very shocked when I was told me how much,” said Sharron Taylor, who runs Giggles Party Shop in High Wycombe and has been hit with a 50% increase. “What can I do… I need helium. No-one is taking on new customers at the moment so I have to pay the price.”

Sharron later contacted BOC directly but the prices were even more expensive than through the wholesaler she is currently using.

“It’s a big ‘inflation’ for me,” she continued, “and I am not sure how my customers are going to react. But I really cannot soak any of the inflation into other products. We are already promoting and educating air-filled decor to our customers but these take time to create and it’s so much easier for customers (especially when they are last minute!) to walk in and take away a helium bouquet. Let’s hope for all of us professional balloon artists that the helium crisis (if there is one) will be resolved ASAP.”

Tony Pike, owner of Party Box Wholesale, has also seen a significant increase in his prices this week, which he has also had to pass onto his customers.

“Its a big increase, but despite the steep price rises we know that we are very competitive and are much cheaper than going to BOC directly,” he said.  “We are also restricted in the amount we can access from BOC – it’s set at 90% of last year’s order. This puts us in a real predicament, because we have grown in that time and so have to try and be as fair as possible to all of our loyal customers.”

Tony is currently setting up a second account with another helium supplier, Air Liquide. Although not currently experiencing any supply difficulties, the Air Liquide helium is also more expensive.

“People are looking for new suppliers but we can’t take them on at the moment,” said Tony. “That will change in about two weeks time as we get our account up and running with Air Liquide. It’s true that their helium does cost more, but for balloon artists and retailers that need the helium, we will have it.”

Anyone looking to set up an account with Party Box Wholesale should get in touch at wholesale@partyboxuk.com

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