Party City closing 45 stores in light of global helium shortage

Andrew Cummings
May 12, 2019

A NY based party supply company says they will close more than 45 locations in the US and Canada this year.

"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.

But the retailer has signed a new helium source agreement that will provide it with additional quantities beginning this summer, and continuing for the next two-and-a-half years.


Party City believes the new source should substantially eliminate the shortfall they are experiencing at current allocation rates and improve its ability to return to a normal level of latex and metallic balloon sales.

It is common for massive chains to close down shops that are not performing well but James Harrison, chief exec of Party City, noted that this year that number had more than doubled. In a press release issued along with the first quarter earnings report Thursday, CEO James Harrison said the shortage impacted revenues in late 2018 and that continued into 2019, resulting in the decision to close almost four dozen locations. A light gas, helium must be captured quickly or it will float into space.

Seventy-five percent of the world's helium comes from sites in Qatar, Wyoming and Texas, but USA reserves are running low, and may not be replenished.


File image of Party City store in Attleborough, Massachusetts. The gas is used to make computer chips, airbags and the cables that carry high speed internet and cable services into homes.

"Despite this helium hiccup, Party City is committed to helping you to throw an unforgettable party", the company wrote on its website.

But in the 1990s, however, it began selling it off, creating a surplus of supply and driving prices down, which was good news for party-balloon makers, but not for scientists.


Party City ended the quarter with $1,991 million in debt.

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