Josephine Dunbar of Augusta is celebrating the Fourth of July on a budget this year.
On Thursday she spent $6 on firecrackers and sparklers at Wacky Wayne's Fireworks on U.S. Highway 1 in North Augusta. In years past, her family members each bought large amounts of fireworks, but they're cutting back because of the economy, she said.
"Everybody's going to buy a little bit and save money," Mrs. Dunbar said.
Local fireworks stores are noticing a decrease in customer spending, but they're optimistic that people will still buy fireworks.
"There's a big cutback," said Cheryl Grubbs, a cashier at Carolina Crackers on U.S. Highway 1 in North Augusta. "People are not spending nearly as much. I had someone last year spend $1,200 on fireworks, and I don't think we'll see near that this year.
"Big stuff isn't flying off the shelves like it used to. Usually by now, we've had a lot (of customers). Our busiest days are the third and fourth, so I know it will pick up," she said.
Sales at Wacky Wayne's location on West Martintown Road in North Augusta started picking up Wednesday, manager Skip Playford said.
"I can't say I've seen any huge effect" of the economy, Mr. Playford said. "I think people are still buying fireworks. Even if they're buying less, people are still buying. I think we're going to do very well."
Instead of buying big-ticket items, many customers are searching for deals. Wacky Wayne's has buy-one-get-one-free deals on some items, he said.
Popular items include artillery shells, multishot aerials and assortment packs, he said.
Michael Janicki, the manager at Fireworks Giant on Old Plantation Road in North Augusta, said sales are slower than last year.
"This time last year, we were probably packed on the first of July," Mr. Janicki said.
The average purchase is $100-$150, which is lower than last year, he said. He's still optimistic that his store will be busy today and Saturday.
Oscar Flores of Augusta isn't going to let the economy stop his family's Fourth of July tradition. He has four children who look forward to fireworks every year, he said.
"They've been asking for them the whole week. The only thing that I didn't do this year that we did last year is we always go out of town," Mr. Flores said.
He spent $42 on fireworks at Carolina Crackers on Thursday and said he plans to return for more.
Reach LaTina Emerson at (706) 823-3227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.