Party City Closing 45 Stores Amid Global Helium Shortage

A Party City store is seen in this image from Google Maps

A NY based party supply company says they will close more than 45 locations in the US and Canada this year.

"Each year, Party City typically closes 10-15 stores as a part of our prudent network optimization process and in response to ongoing consumer, market and economic changes that naturally arise in the business", James M. Harrison, the company's chief executive officer, said in a statement Thursday.

Harrison said the company should secure a new helium source for its stores this summer with a contract expected to last several years. The impact of the helium shortage has been "negatively impacted our latex and metallic balloon categories", Harrison said, adding a solution to the issue has been found.

The list will be updated as more store closures are announced.

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

"Helium supply has always been a little up in the air (pun intended)..." But many parts of the world attempt to recycle helium, while the practice is seldom used in the states, according to USGS.

Helium is captured while extracting natural gas and is used in MRI machines and to make computer drives and chips, in addition to filling balloons.

Dozens of multicolored balloons are shown in a file image.

Although helium is the second-most abundant element in the universe, Earth only has a limited supply - and the U.S National Research Council warned in 2012 that the gas could run out by 2040. Other party stores told the news outlet that they had run out of helium and were not taking any further orders.

But in the 1990s, however, it began selling it off, creating a surplus of supply and driving prices down, which was good news for party-balloon makers, but not for scientists.

The company says they will focus on the the most successful locations to help improve the company's portfolio. The company ended the quarter with $1,991 million in debt.