Helium is the second-most abundant element in the galaxy, yet Party City is struggling to find enough of the gas to fill balloons.
Balloons are big business for Party City. The company's mylar balloon sales fell 8% last quarter, dragging overall sales down 1.4% at Party City stores open at least a year. Sales would have risen if not for the balloon problems, the company said Thursday.
Filling balloons with helium is among the company's most profitable services, according to Barclays' Matt McClintock. Helium brings people into the store, and those customers usually buy other items instead of buying on Amazon or at another store. But with the earth's (and Party City's) helium supplies dwindling, potential balloon customers have been searching elsewhere for party goods.
Party City also said it will close 45 stores this year. That's triple the number of stores the company typically closes in any given year. In a worrisome sign, almost all of those stores are profitable, the company said. The company is closing the stores to boost overall profitability, hoping customers will shop at nearby Party City stores. It has about 900 across North America.