Party City has announced plans to close 45 stores across the country due to a global helium shortage.
Officials with the party supplies store chain did not say which stores would be affected. The closings are expected to happen throughout the year.
Party City’s future
There are currently 870 Party City stores across the United States and Canada. In a statement, CEO James Harrison said the company typically closes 10 to 15 stores each year as part of a “prudent network optimization process” and in response to consumer and economic changes.
“This year, after careful consideration and evaluation of our store fleet, we’ve made the decision to close more stores than usual in order to help optimize our market-level performance, focus on the most profitable locations and improve the overall health of our store portfolio,” Harrison said.
In his statement, Harrison also said the company has signed a letter of agreement with a new helium source. If the “definitive contract” is executed, more helium would be available starting this summer.
“We believe this new source should substantially eliminate the shortfall we are experiencing at current allocation rates and improve our ability to return to a normal level of latex and metallic balloon sales,” Harrison said.
The helium shortage
According to the Party City website, there are only three sources that produce 75 percent of the world’s helium. That’s why any disruption has a significant impact. The helium supply is currently very low and demand is still growing, the company explains.
“Because of this global helium shortage, fulfillment of balloon orders may be affected at your store,” the company said online. “We’re working to replenish the helium at the affected stores as more supply becomes available.”
Helium is found in the ground. Party City says it’s typically found in small portions mixed with natural gas. It’s then separated.
Helium is not only used for party balloons. It’s also used to create electronics, medical devices and rockets.