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Party City to close 45 stores due to world helium shortage

Friday, May 10th 2019, 2:53 pm - The closures are expected to take place before the end of the year.

Party City has announced it will shutter 45 stores due to a global helium shortage.

The party supply company, which based in New Jersey, hasn't announced which of its 870 locations will be impacted.

In a statement, CEO James Harrison says the company typically closes between 10 to 15 stores a year.

RELATED:

WORLD RUNNING OUT OF HELIUM

While helium is one of the most abundant elements in the universe, harvesting it is expensive and cumbersome. A light gas, helium must be captured quickly or it will float into space.

Methods include extracting it from underground or harvesting it from natural gas.

Seventy-five percent of the world's helium comes from sites in Qatar, Wyoming and Texas, but U.S. reserves are running low, and may not be replenished.

"The problem is, helium is being used up faster than it can be produced these days," Anders Bylund of the Motely Fool wrote.

"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 ... Helium shortages fluctuate over time and across geographical markets, but anywhere between 50 and 200 of Party City's 850 stores don't have any helium in their tanks at any given time."

In addition to party favours and balloons, helium is used as a cooling agent in MRI machines, in rocket cleaners, in airbags and microscopes in addition to other technologies. Scientists are pushing for organizations to begin recycling helium when possible.

While some agencies are working to produce more helium in the future, that likely won't happen until 2020 or 2021 -- creating a shortfall that could persist for several months.

VIDEO: HELIUM LEAK POSTPONES ROCKET LAUNCH | APRIL 2014

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