Party City announced on Thursday that it will be closing 45 stores in 2019 while a worldwide shortage of helium is taking place.
The company says it has found a new source of helium that should get it back "to a normal level of latex and metallic balloon sales".
"Each year, Party City typically closes 10-15 stores as a part of our prudent network optimization process and in response to ongoing consumer, market and economic changes that naturally arise in the business", James M. Harrison, the company's chief executive officer, said in a statement Thursday.
The chain, which operates more than 40 stores in IL, did not disclose the locations of the stores that will close throughout the year.
In comments, Harrison said that the chain's first quarter results were impacted by a helium shortage, which negatively impacted the sale of its popular latex and metallic balloons. The natural gas in Utah, Texas, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming is richer in helium than in other states, which is why there are extraction plants in those areas, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management. The demand for the gas is growing while about 75 percent of helium comes from three suppliers in the world, USA Today reported.
File image of Party City store in Attleborough, Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, the party chain is scrambling to find new helium supplies. "We're working to replenish the helium at the affected stores as more supply becomes available".
"Party City is not a huge contributor to that trend since most of the global consumption goes into cooling down medical devices and cleaning rocket fuel tanks".
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 now operates 870 locations across the US and Canada with more than two dozen in MI.
Party City ended the quarter with $1,991 million in debt.