When you head to Dollar Tree, it’s often just to browse, knowing that everything will be very affordable. These stores are chock-full of food products, cleaning supplies, and even glassware. And while they might not have everything on your weekly shopping list, you generally know you’ll find most of what you need browsing the aisles. But if you go to Dollar Tree with specific purchases in mind, you’ll want to be aware of a new warning that could affect your next shopping trip. Read on to find out what the company said customers should prepare for.
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Dollar Tree has been under fire recently, facing backlash stemming from an FDA investigation into the company-owned Family Dollar stores and resultant boycott threats. On a less serious note, these stores also infamously raised prices from the standard $1 to $1.25 in Nov. 2021, after having maintained the dollar price point for nearly 35 years.
Other recent headlines may have warned of items you should never buy at Dollar Tree, but despite any controversy, there are reliable products that the store is known for. Due to ongoing supply chain issues, however, some items may be harder to get your hands on.
If you get your party supplies at Dollar Tree, you will be dismayed to learn that balloon sales might be limited. On a May 26 earnings call, the company discussed the ongoing helium shortage, which unfortunately coincides with graduation season, Axios reported. This is not the first time a shortage has affected sales, as helium was tough to come by in 2019 as well. On the May 2022 earnings call, officials said this was happening “once again,” per Axios.
“Currently, helium demand is greater than supply, so our stores are finding themselves temporarily out of helium from time to time as they wait for new deliveries,” Dollar Tree said in a statement on its website. “We know this can be tricky when getting ready for a party, and we are very sorry for the inconvenience. We LOVE to party as much as you do, and we know that colorful, festive balloons are a cornerstone to the party ambiance.”
Dollar Tree is not alone in its balloon woes, as Party City also acknowledged the helium shortage on May 9, Axios reported. But while so many of us have come to rely on helium for our balloons, it is actually a rare gas. There are a limited number of helium producers, and as with so many things these days, delays are a result of supply chain issues, The Guardian reported. Now, suppliers have placed limits on the amount of helium allocated to various purchasers.
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Beyond party favors, other industries rely on helium, which is used to fuel rockets and help MRI machines function. The gas is also necessary for different kinds of balloons used by the National Weather Service (NWS). According to The Guardian, the weather service releases weather balloons filled with helium twice a day. They are then used to assist in determining the weather forecast. Due to the shortage, as well as contractual issues with a supplier, the NWS was forced to reduce the frequency at which balloons were launched, according to a March 29 public service announcement.
The shortage further caused the University of Nebraska football team to call off an annual tradition. As reported by KMTV Omaha, Trev Alberts, the university’s athletic director, said that they would not use red balloons at football games in the fall. These balloons are traditionally released at home games when the team scores its first points.
While there may be more serious consequences of the helium shortage than deflated balloons, Dollar Tree does have some recommendations for shoppers looking for balloons. If your local store is temporarily out of helium, you can try another location in your area or opt for air-filled balloons as an alternative. Although these balloons won’t float like helium-filled balloons, they “can still be the centerpiece of your party décor,” the retailer wrote on its website.
You might also want to save yourself a trip and call your local store ahead of time to see if they have helium in stock, Axios suggests.
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