Countdown takes fireworks off the shelf as public mood swings in favour of animal welfare


Sophie Lister found hundreds of empty fireworks shells littering Auckland’s Mission Bay during a morning run.

Countdown won’t sell fireworks this Guy Fawkes Day, a move the supermarket chain says is due to a change in public sentiment.

It conducted a customer survey that showed 66 per cent of respondents “rarely or never” bought fireworks for private use. 

Animal welfare was the biggest reason for waning interest in the products, cited by 71 per cent. Other reasons given were fire safety, 49 per cent, environmental reasons, 30 per cent, disturbing neighbours, 34 per cent, and personal safety, 30 per cent.

​Countdown general manager, corporate affairs, quality, safety and sustainability Kiri Hannifin said the chain had been speaking to its customers for several years about their views on fireworks and had seen a trend emerge. 

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“What [people] really prefer doing is going to the big public celebrations. Backyard fireworks are becoming less of an occasion,” she said.

People are losing interest in backyard Guy Fawkes celebrations.

SIMON O’CONNOR/STUFF

People are losing interest in backyard Guy Fawkes celebrations.

The SPCA supported the supermarket’s move, and had been campaigning for a public ban on the sale of fireworks for decades.

A 2019 multi-agency study led by SPCA found that the vast majority of New Zealanders supported a ban on the public sale of fireworks.

SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen said she hoped other retailers would follow suit.

“The loud noises and bright flashes of light can be very frightening to animals, leading to animals running away, injuring themselves, and becoming susceptible to traffic incidents,” she said.

Hannifin said the supermarket had been working with the SPCA on community pet donations for several years and had consulted with the SPCA ahead of its decision.

Stuff


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