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Not with a bang but a whimper.....?

The credit crunch, gloomy weather and the Chinese Olympics are wreaking havoc on fireworks sales ahead of this Bonfire night.

Several community events were cancelled last weekend after heavy rain hit the county early Saturday evening.

These cancellations, combined with the looming recession, mean fewer people are out buying fireworks.

Viking Fireworks in Ramsgate has seen the number of customers visiting its shop in Margate Road halved in recent weeks compared to last year.

Owner Mark Dempsey believes many of the smaller event organisers are holding off buying fireworks until they've seen what the weather will be like on Wednesday and at the weekend.

He said: "We've had at least one cancellation so far. People are looking at them as a luxury item this year - something they can do without. I think there will be a trend towards more people going to organised displays rather than spending money on it themselves."

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The year started badly for Kent fireworks suppliers, when explosions in firework warehouses in the Chinese port city of Sanshui held up supplies leaving the country.

The ports were shut again during the Beijing Olympics, contributing further delays to shipments arriving on our shores.

As more than 80 per cent of the UK's fireworks come from China, this has left supplies over-stretched this November.

Ken Fifield, one of the directors of Phoenix Fireworks in Wrotham says for many suppliers it couldn't have happened at a worse time.

He said: "There was actually very little supply coming in for about four months. It's starting to clear now as some of the ports are now shipping, but it's a bit of too little, too late."

His company saw the problem coming though and are in a better situation than most.

He said: "We imported from Europe rather than China this year - we saw this coming last January and filled our stores up then so we're now able to re-sell on to some of the professional firework companies who've been caught short.

"We had a whole load of them come round last week needing supplies for this week, so from our point of view it's been absolutely marvellous."

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For now the suppliers are just hoping customers will start coming through the doors in the next few days.

Mr Dempsey said: "I think people are just waiting to see if it will rain on the actual day.

If it's bad then hopefully they'll come and buy things for next weekend anyway, if not we can always hold on to them until next year."

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