Why is Chinese New Year important to UK importers?
09 November 2018
Chinese New Year is approaching and now is the time to act, with factories and transportation hubs closing for the holiday, it’s important to organise freight arrangements as soon as possible.
The holiday is on Tuesday 5th February 2019, and although it is only a 5 day holiday, factories will begin to close up to 10 days prior to allow time for workers to travel back home to spend the holiday with their families. Typically, Chinese offices and factories are closed for about 3 weeks, sometimes closures can last up to 40 days.
With the long closures of factories and businesses, there is a mad rush to ship products out of ports before the country shuts down, this can often lead to increased freight costs, long transit times, delayed shipments and unanticipated issues due to the lack of availability.
What can you do to ensure your supply chain runs smoothly when one of the world’s largest exporters shuts down for almost a month?
- Plan ahead; if you plan to get transportation booked – especially sea freight – at least 4 weeks prior to Chinese New Year and remember; the earlier, the better. Some factories close earlier than others to allow their employees to travel home in time for the celebrations.
- Ship all orders prior to CNY, plan your inventory and be sure to place any necessary orders with plenty of notice.
- Follow up with your suppliers on Cargo Ready Date, as these can shift frequently in the run up to CNY due to factories running on maximum capacity
- If you have a strict deadline, consider air freight, but remember that air capacity can be tight before Chinese New Year and will also require advance booking to avoid last minute disappointment
- If you are unable to plan ahead and book in advance, a longer transit time may be an alternative option to consider. As the fastest transit-time services are more likely to be overbooked or unavailable, selecting a transit time that is longer by a few days could mean that your cargo is less likely to be rolled to the following week
It’s also wise to keep in mind that factory staff sometimes don’t return to the factories after CNY is over. CNY is often seen as a prime time to switch jobs, with many workers not returning to their previous factory work. This can result in longer production times as factories work on replacing their workforce whilst working on any orders they received during the holiday period.
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