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Sainsbury’s no longer sells fireworks: what are your views?

Sainsbury’s has become the first major supermarket to stop selling fireworks, but do you agree with its decision? And will other supermarkets follow suit?

02/11/2021: Update

We were interested to see if Sainsbury’s decision to stop selling fireworks would carry on for a third year running – and that is indeed the case.

Many continue to back Sainsbury’s decision for a variety of reasons, such as having elderly pets who are scared of the noise:

But how do you feel about the decision this year? Do you think it’s time other UK supermarkets did the same thing? Or would you prefer they carry on?

As always, let us know your views and join the debate in the comments. We’ll check back to see what’s changed, if anything, next year.

03/11/2020: Update

Sainsbury’s has confirmed its decision not to sell fireworks will extend to this year:

With many Bonfire Night events called off due to the pandemic this year, it’s likely that most of the fireworks we do see and hear this Thursday will be back garden displays.

Do you support Sainsbury’s continued decision not to stock them?

01/11/2019: Sainsbury’s stops selling fireworks

As Bonfire Night approaches the debate over whether fireworks should continue to be sold to the general public will always resurface. It’s one I’ve written about before here on Which? Conversation.

When we posted about the subject on Facebook back in 2016 it sparked a huge debate around the responsible use and sale of them.

Last year, a petition to ban them ended up attracting more than 300,000 signatures. This is, without question, a topic that people feel very strongly about.

Sainsbury’s stops selling fireworks

This year’s debate has taken a further twist, with Sainsbury’s becoming the first major supermarket to stop selling them completely.

It hasn’t said exactly why the decision has been taken, but did tell the BBC that the information was commercially sensitive.

In that case, perhaps it’s a cost-related decision rather than one down to campaigning pressure. But whatever the reason, those who want to see them banned have been expressing their support for the supermarket’s decision.

Regardless of the reasons behind the move, do you support Sainsbury’s decision to stop selling fireworks?

Last year we discussed whether back garden bonfire and fireworks events were safe enough.

Kate pointed out that while there are no specific bonfire bans in the UK, there are some restrictions that people should definitely be aware of.

This includes the fact that you could be fined if you allow smoke to drift across a road and become a danger to traffic.

Experiences with bonfires and fireworks

Do you think back garden displays are safe? Speaking from experience, I have my doubts. When I was around four years old, my family attended a display in a friend’s back garden.

After a rocket was lit, it became dislodged at the last possible moment and came hurtling towards me and my dad. I have his quick reactions and a very thick leather jacket to thank for not being seriously injured – he was able to shield me from it just in time.

Fortunately I was ok, if a little shaken, especially after seeing the huge hole burnt through the leather. If you are having a display this year please do be as careful as possible, especially if there are children around.

Have you ever had any similar experiences to mine? Do you want to see the sale of fireworks banned in the UK? Should they be limited to officially organised events only?

Every year the calls seem to get louder – perhaps it’s just a matter of time?

How do you feel about Sainsbury's not selling fireworks this year?

It's a good decision (97%, 4,560 Votes)

It's a bad decision (2%, 113 Votes)

Other (Tell us why in the comments) (0%, 19 Votes)

Total Voters: 4,692

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George has updated the introduction to say that Sainsbury’s has decided to stop selling fireworks.

The last time I attended a private display was in 1977. Sometimes I go to the large public display run by the local Lions group. It is well run and away from housing, but has been cancelled for the second year due to Covid. None of my neighbours bothered with fireworks last year so I am expecting a quiet Friday evening and the rest of the weekend.

I do hope there is a proper parliamentary debate because this is a big issue for many people.

In my young days fireworks were relatively small, roman candles, mount Vesuvius, modest rockets, catharine wheels, and the like. We had very enjoyable evenings on or around the 5th. Often with a bonfire, cocoa, jacket potatoes and toffee. I do not want to see such private displays banned. Controlling what is sold privately seems a sensible option.

Simply advocating public displays does not address some people’s concerns about the effect on, for example, animals and sensitive people. They are particularly noisy. We saw wonderful displays on the river in Dartmouth during regatta week and I am not aware of any reported significant ill effects. During the week they had very noisy air displays, including a Typhoon that set off car alarms. They could be regarded as polluting and potentially disturbing animals. Should they be banned? Noisy parties? Petrol lawn mowers regularly disturbing the weekend?

I’m sure we can never please everyone, but 300 000 objecting via an e-petition out of the whole adult population is not exactly overwhelming.

“Parliament will debate this petition on 8 November 2021.”

Phil says:
2 November 2021

Let’s hope they check the cellars first…

This Convo and debate shouldn’t just focus on the immediate safety concerns.

Fireworks – especially in conjunction with wet bonfires – are major sources of particulate pollution. Spikes in measured air quality (PM2.5) are noticeable on 5th November and again on 31st December. In addition, the coloured effects are mostly produced from burning metal salts, which are toxic.

Given the current climate issues, materials shortages and difficulties with logistics (transportation), why are we wasting valuable materials, mining mineral resources, manufacturing and shipping this garbage around the planet? There is no beneficial outcome for anyone, except those who profit from this trade.

There are of course those who will claim it is just a bit of fun for the kids and keeping our “traditions” alive. Then, perhaps for these people, we should consider bring back stocks and ducking stools, which are less harmful to the environment, as well as providing a source of public entertainment.

It’s not just fireworks that pollute the atmosphere. Burning wet wood produces particulates which is why a ban has been introduced for its sale. Although official bonfire organisers can be careful about what is burned, private bonfires may be fed with general waste, which is very unwise because of the risk of toxic fumes.

This is really interesting, living in Luton. We have this ongoing issue with fireworks being let off all year round. I haven’t investigated as to why or where this is being done but I can see them from the garden. Without fail around 9pm every night there are rockets going off, believe it or not sometimes it’s even during the day time. Myself and the neighbours have contacted the council about it and yet nothing has been done about it.

Hi Chirag – It’s not legal to use fireworks at most times and the council should know the law: https://www.gov.uk/fireworks-the-law

You might have to make a complaint to the council.

It is illegal to set fireworks off between 11pm to 7am except bonfire night and Diwali.

Hi, firework use is allowed 365 days a year. from 7am to 11pm every single day! with extensions on 4 days. 5th, NYE, Diwali and Chinese New Year.

Quite so, Julie. Unfortunately Chirag cannot expect any action from the local authority unless there are local bye-laws that prohibit letting off fireworks at certain times within the statutorily permitted periods [and such bye-laws usually refer to letting off fireworks in the the street rather than on private property]. Otherwise the only possible action is probably for the neighbours who are affected to identify the culprits and have a solicitor’s letter sent to them warning that if they do not desist from persistently causing a nuisance they will seek an injunction against them based on the residents’ right to peaceable enjoyment of their property.

At the very least, Chirag’s council should, as a courtesy, have informed him of its position but it seems that courtesy is no longer being provided within the council tax budget.

Problems with noise can be reported to the council: https://www.gov.uk/report-noise-pollution-to-council As John has said, information would be needed to identify the culprits but the council should act. Local councillors may (or may not) be helpful. Where I used to live the local Liberal Democrats frequently asked residents to report local problems. For example, the LDs pushed the council to take action about teenagers riding noisy motorcycles along the riverbank and helped sort out other issues that were not noise-related. The main parties never offered this sort of help.

MPs to debate petition on fireworks https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/158508/mps-to-debate-petition-on-fireworks/

This document has a link so that we can watch the debate.

The petition, which has more than 301,000 signatures, states: “Current legislation allows for public use of fireworks 16 hours a day, every day, making it impossible for vulnerable groups to take precautions against the distress they can cause. Better enforcement of existing law is insufficient; limiting their sale & use to licensed displays only is necessary.”

301 000 is 0.0048 of the population over 5. I wonder how many of the remaining 63 000 000 enjoy and support fireworks, whether generally or limited to specific occasions?

..”limiting their sale & use to licensed displays only is necessary.” is not, of course, the only solution. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the debate on Monday.

Friday – bonfire night – was a pleasant evening around here. A close neighbour had a 5 minute display of aerial fireworks that were enjoyable to watch. I heard other more distant displays. We may see more tonight, including public displays that are usually more noisy and last longer.

I usually visit the large public display, which is away from homes and other buildings, but it has been cancelled to reduce the risk of spreading Covid. I looked out yesterday evening and did not see any fireworks.

For me, fireworks are not an issue but I can understand the concerns of others, especially those who live in urban areas. I support having the debate.

We have discussed poor service from Currys in another Conversation. Only a small proportion of customers have experienced a problem but it should not be ignored. Likewise, it’s a minority of people that have been victim of social media scams but there is no reason to ignore them.

Desbroom says:
6 November 2021

While I agree the public should not have access to fireworks. The downside is being able to purchase them on the internet from potentially unsafe / unregulated source’s. It is all very well having regulations to restrict / ban their use unless they are enforced.

Viv Scott says:
6 November 2021

Good for Sainsburys – they’re on the right side of history. Fireworks are outdated and cause endless trauma to people, pets and wildlife due to their increasing noise and pollution.

At the end of the parliamentary debate on Monday, Paul Scully restated the government’s position for England thus:
”In our polling, the Government found that 11% of the population want a total ban on fireworks, 36% want a ban on the private sale of fireworks, and, from memory, 64% enjoy the use of fireworks and want to be able to enjoy them both privately and publicly. We came to similar conclusions from our evidence as were reached by the Petitions Committee in its 2019 inquiry. In the extensive report setting out its findings, the Committee concluded that introducing further restrictions on fireworks was not the appropriate course of action, due to the potential unintended consequences. That was just two years ago. We agree with that position.”

The transcript of the debate can be seen here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-11-08/debates/E3C6762B-B81D-462E-95C1-6EAA2030A63E/FireworksSaleAndUse

No doubt there will be another debate in a year.

Thanks for the link. If Covid does not cancel the town’s firework display next year I expect I will pay a visit.

I wonder how those who have problems are expected to cope. Through my involvement with a charity I met a group of autistic young adults, several years ago. Simply raising my voice to make some safety announcements made some of them cover their ears because of the ‘noise’. I had a useful discussion with the organiser, who explained the reason. Maybe it would help to move towards low-noise fireworks for public sale.

Phil says:
9 November 2021

The Wail run an article describing how a number of dogs had either died of heart attacks or run off in panic in reaction to fireworks. I’ve heard of a widow who’d bought a dog for companionship after her husband died who lost it to fireworks and someone who had their horses well and truly spooked. There have also been reports of rockets being used as weapons against firefighters and a baby being badly burnt after one was fired into his pram. I’m beginning to think these things are a menace

If fireworks were invented today I very much doubt that they would be approved for sale to the public. We are where we are and if anyone tries to restrict public freedom there can be strong opposition. My preference would be for fireworks to be restricted to public displays.

If fireworks were invented today, it would take a long time for any restrictions on sale to be brought into effect. Legislators are very slow to act on new technologies and chemical substances, which is why we are still behind the curve on Internet and mobile phone scams.

Laser pointers are another good example. Only invented in 1960, whoever thought it was a good idea to ever allow members of the public to get their hands on miniature devices operating at ambient temperatures, which can cause temporary or permanent blindness to others at long range, needs their head examining.

I’m suspicious about ‘burning lasers’ claimed to have a power output of 1mW on sale online.

When I first wielded a laser pointer there were regulations in place.

Well, we could say the same about a lot of things the majority enjoy.

I often (well, very occasionally really) wonder whether we would have allowed 2 way roads where vehicles travel in opposite directions with a closing speed of 140 m/h just a few feet apart. As a design concept it looks horribly hazardous.