Helium shortage forces party shop to shut its doors

Penny Riddoch of Party Shack

Penny Riddoch of Party Shack

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A PARTY shop is set to close its doors after being hit by a worldwide helium shortage.

The Party Shack has cited the deflated helium industry which has left it unable to sell balloons as the main factor for its imminent closure.

The natural gas, which is mined, is a finite resource, which has led to increased prices.

Costs have further rocketed in the past few months, with the supply rationed while several major plants undergo maintenance.

Kim Riddoch, who owns the shop in North High Street, Musselburgh, said: “The impact of the shortage means that I will be closing the business in November.

“We are losing so much money because we cannot take balloon orders. We stopped taking them about two and a half months ago. We can’t get the helium in to fill them up.

“A lot of people think helium is a man-made gas, but there’s only so much in the world and once it’s gone it’s gone.

“I’m gutted that the business is going, but there are other ways to keep afloat.”

The Party Shack, which has been in business for ten years, now plans to continue as a website but will not be offering balloons.

Almost all of the world’s supply of helium comes from a handful of industrial plants in the US which have been undergoing maintenance.

As well as party balloons, helium is used in large quantities by Nasa – which needs it in its purest form to clean rocket engines – and by the medical sector which uses helium to cool the large magnets inside MRI scanners.

In September, Tom Welton, a professor of sustainable chemistry at Imperial College, London, called for helium to be used more carefully, and warned of “having to shut things down” and that in 30 to 50 years there could be a serious shortage.

Co-owner of the Party Shack, Penny Riddoch, said: “In the past two months the cost of a large tank of helium, which would fill 600 balloons, has gone up from £60 to £80, and there’s word that the price will treble.”

Amanda Carlin, is the owner of Party Mania in Nicholson Street, where the price of a 20-inch foil balloon is £3.99.

She said: “Obviously we have been affected by the helium shortage – we’ve been affected by the price increase but also with regards to the supply chain. We’ve been severely rationed for the last six to eight months.

“But at this stage we haven’t had to pass the cost on to customers, although that will have to change if this situation ­continues.

“Balloons are one of the main draws for people coming in to the shop.

“It’s a difficult time for ­everybody.”