Some 1,500 garden centres, DIY stores, bike shops and other outlets on Saturday opened for business in the four-day window during which fireworks can be sold to the general public.
This year sellers are hoping for better sales and advance orders are up 10% on 2012, news agency ANP reported. Sales of fireworks have fallen by around 5% a year for the past three years, reaching €65m in 2012, according to the Dutch pyrotechnic association.
Officially fireworks can only be sold for four days prior to the New Year celebrations. Fireworks can be set off between 10.00 hours on December 31 and 02.00 hours on January 1 with those who break the rules facing a €100 fine.
However, over 15,000 complaints have already been received by the firework nuisance hotline operated by the GroenLinks politicial party.
According to the AD, the mayors of 19 Dutch towns have decided to introduce firework-free zones around schools, shops and hospitals. The paper bases its claims on a study of local bylaws.
For example, Capelle aan de IJssel has banned fireworks from the areas around daycare centres and petrol stations while Reeuwijk has brought in a ban on fireworks being set off close to houses with thatched roofs.
In Vlaardingen fireworks have been banned from the two main shopping streets. ‘I would really appreciate a nationwide ban,’ mayor Tjerk Bruinsma told the AD. ‘But I am a lone voice in the desert,’ he said. ‘This allows me to do something about the nuisance.’
Every year hundreds of people are injured and several are blinded or lose hands because of accidents involving fireworks during the New Year festivities.
According to the Volkskrant, last year around 800 people reported to hospital accident and emergency departments because of firework injuries. At least 25% of accidents involve illegal fireworks.
Research by consultancy Q&A earlier this week showed 45% of the Dutch support a ban on selling fireworks to the general public.