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Helium shortage continues hurting Virginia business owners

A Virginia business owner says the price of helium has continued to increase since last year.

NORFOLK, Va. — In 2019, a global helium shortage started due to some companies shutting down.

Inside Norfolk's Novelties Unlimited balloons cover the ceiling. Betty Hermann, the owner, said the last helium shortage was the worst she's gone through. It forced her to cut back on her helium purchases. 

A year later, she's lucky enough to have a supplier providing helium again, but it comes at a higher cost. 

It's going to rise again.

The next price increase will be on March 1, 2020.  

"It went from 2 something to five something, this past year. It's a lot, so each increment has been anywhere from 10 to 15 percent each time," said Hermann.

Hermann said the price increases have forced her to track the amount of helium she uses.   

"We used to sell an 11-inch balloon for I think for 80 cents and now they are up to a $1.40, that's a lot for one balloon," said Hermann. 

Helium serves several purposes. As a natural gas, it helps cool down medical equipment, like MRI scanners.

It's also used in rockets. 

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