Party City Announcing Store Closings Due To Helium Shortage

May 13, 2019

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News of national retail chains closing stores of going out of business totally (as with Payless) is such a shocker in the Internet age but the news that Party City would be closing 45 of its 870 stores due to a worldwide helium shortage is not a typical reason. The party-supplies company routinely closes and opens 9 to 10 stores annually as customer demands change but because of the difficulty of securing helium for its balloons, the closures have been increased.  Although helium is the second most-abundant element on Earth (behind oxygen), most of the world's supply comes as a byproduct from the collection of natural gas. Besides filling up colorful balloons, helium is an essential elements in the medical field as it is used in cooling MRI and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance devices, in deploying your car's airbag, in the manufacturing of fiber optics and even for deep sea diving to prevent "the bends." Worldwide, there are just 14 plants worldwide which refine helium into liquid form. Seven of these plants are in the United States with the largest reserve of helium found in Amarillo, Texas, which has been home to the Federal Helium Reserve since the 1920s. Today must of that reserve has been used up, which has added to the crippling shortages of up to 20% between 2011 and 2013. In the last decade, the price of helium has gone up more than 250%. However scientists and geologist have surprised the scientific world by discovering a huge new reserve in Tanzania's Rift Valley in east Africa in 2016, which over time will ensure it use in the medical field continues. It's a little too late for many Party City stores.  Although the company said they’ve secured new helium sources to continue operations, it still means more closings until more helium is available. As for which stores are closing, the company has not released those locations yet.

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SOURCE: Newser

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