If you are new to importing from China, you may not realise that you need to plan now for two weeks in February when everything in China shuts down - including your manufacturers and suppliers!
Planning ahead - starting now - can help you avoid disruptions, delays and unexpected costs in shipping.
When is Chinese New Year in 2019?
Chinese New Year in 2019 is on Tuesday the 5th of February, but the festivities run from 4 – 10 February. The year will finish on 24 January 2020.
Also known as the Spring Festival and Lunar New Year, the most important Chinese holiday is New Year, based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar. The lunar calendar shows the moon phase and time of the solar year. 2019 will be the year of the pig.
How Long Does Chinese New Year Last?
Chinese New Year lasts for seven days however some businesses close for as long as three weeks.
The Chinese New Year Timeline start with celebrations on New Year’s Eve. Most workers enjoy a seven-day break from work including the weekend to allow them time to travel and visit relatives. While on leave, they also watch Chinese New Year events, fireworks and plan for the New Year. Some people will also use the time to visit tourist locations.
Chinese New Year Business Shut Down
Western businesses only shut for one to two business days at a time so for the whole country to grind to a halt for one week or more, is hard to fathom. But if you are trying to get goods imported just prior to Chinese New Year, you will experience difficulties.
Chinese businesses close for one week to celebrate CNY, but many businesses will shut down up to 10 days earlier to give staff an opportunity to travel home to rural areas. With another week for employees to travel back to their urban area, the total shutdown time can be as long as three weeks.
Increased Shipping Costs & Delays
One of the big benefits of getting organised early, is to avoid the increase in freight costs. Shipping rates are based on supply and demand. With customers all over the world trying to get their goods out before factories and ports close, freight costs typically soar before CNY as businesses try to get their freight out of China before the port closes.
Also, if your goods leave China before the rush you aren’t at risk of having your container held over because another customer has agreed to paid a higher freight rate. Having your container bumped multiple times can add weeks to your order arriving.
Quality of Goods
When a factory is under pressure to get large quantities of orders out the door before shut down, quality management can suffer. If the factory doesn’t have time to check on quality control during manufacture, you could end up with a container full of worthless, defective goods.
Also if your order goes in when the factory is struggling with high volumes, you may have to pay top dollar to manufacture your goods on time.
Plan for After Chinese New Year
Make sure you have enough stock to cover the weeks following CNY. It can take time for factories to get up to full production speed after the break while staff return to work. There may also be a backlog of orders to fill that have come in over the shutdown.
Other Chinese Holidays
The Chinese New Year is the biggest holiday each year. While most holidays don’t result in week-long shutdowns, there are a few other holidays to be aware of that may cause production or shipping delays.
Other 2019 Chinese public holiday dates include:
New Years Day – 1 January
Chinese New Year – 4-10 February
Qingming Festival – 5-7 April
May Day – 1 May
Dragon Boat Festival – 7-9 June
Mid-Autumn Day – 13-15 September
National Day – 1-7 October
Some people also have a half day holiday to celebrate Women’s Day and Army Day.
The Benefits of Being Organised Early for CNY
While February seems a long way off, now is the time to prepare for the Chinese New Year so you aren’t caught out.
You need to book in your order well in advance and organise for the goods to be at the disembarking port with plenty of time to spare. New customers report experiencing the greatest dramas. Manufacturers are flat-out trying to get goods out the door so they will favour existing customers with long relationships over new customers.
If you need help with sourcing a Chinese manufacturer and shipping before it’s too late, contact Vara Allied on (08) 6115 0118 or contact us online.