Chinese New Year

18th Jan

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year globally, is the Chinese festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. The first day of Chinese New Year begins on the new moon that appears between Tuesday 21st January and Thursday 20th February. This year the first day of the Chinese New Year falls on Saturday 25th January. 2020 is the Year of the Rat!

Chinese New Year is celebrated worldwide in regions and countries with significant overseas Chinese populations such as Singapore and many other eastern countries, North America and Europe too. Chinese New Year is one of the most popularly celebrated public holidays in China.

Chinese New Year and the Shipping Industry

Chinese New Year has a huge impact on global supply chains that originate from China. Being one of the most important and most celebrated holiday periods and by far the longest holiday period celebrated the impact is felt globally. Factories and businesses can shut down for the week or even up to 15 days!  Most workers will travel home and spend this time with their families but employers might not know when they will return which can cause delays in production lines. Most companies will plan ahead to accommodate New Year shut down but good planning and coordination are key to ensuring smooth operations and that there is enough produce for customers over the shutdown period.

During Chinese New Year Chinas transportation industry is at full pace and running on overtime meaning that almost everyone experiences issues with container and truck availability when shipping goods at this time, however, the ports do tend to stay open for much of this period. Skeleton staff make up the workforce in most industries over this holiday period focusing more on essential or perishable items.

To ensure shipments meet deadlines they must be at the port at least 10 days before Chinese New Year and booked at least two weeks in advance to make sure there is room to accommodate because space does go quickly. If you are due to ship a large amount around this time it is likely some of your shipments will be delayed or postponed because of the congestion in the industry. Normal shipping usually resumes about a week after New Year.

Leading up to New Year it is a good idea to prepare customs declarations documents in advance as well as getting containers filled ready for shipment. Shipping lines will apply a general rate increase at this time of year because they know everyone needs to ship their containers and will do so at any cost. Vessels can even be cancelled completely which causes further issues in the supply chain meaning a knock-on impact on the global supply chain.

In UK Shipping the industry as a whole will be quieter for a few weeks as fewer shipments are coming in. Drivers will have less road work to transport around the country and will be lucky to keep their normal number of shifts. Offices will be quieter with less movement in the supply chain, but the lull should pick up again quite quickly after Chinese New Year comes to a close.

Tips for Chinese New Year in Shipping:

  • Plan – get your bookings in, the sooner the better!
  • Avoid any orders at short notice
  • Delivery and schedules need to be planned and confirmed with suppliers and forwarders to avoid delay
  • Be aware of any extra charges you might incur if shipments miss vessel deadlines or are held by customs
  • Orders placed over this time may not be as high quality as normal because of a lack of workers in factories trying to get the job done so try not to place any urgent orders that could be affected or lose you money if incorrect or low quality

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