The Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival, is China’s most important holiday. This year, the festival begins on January 25th, 2020. Similar to Thanksgiving or Christmas in the US, people travel back home during the holiday season to spend time with their family —with one giant difference. All Chinese offices and factories close for nearly three working weeks, allowing workers in coastal Chinese cities to travel to their inland homes.
The period of increased travel surrounding CNY is the largest human migration in the world.
If you are wondering why one of China’s largest holidays matters to your business halfway around the world, sit tight. Since China is a major player in the global exporting industry, CNY plays a huge role around the world for retailers who rely on imports from China.
How to Plan for the Chinese New Year
The only way to get your business through the Chinese New Year is to plan. It’s hard to fathom all businesses shutting down in the United States for 3+ weeks, but in China, that is the reality. Although the holiday technically only lasts for one week, many factories and businesses shut down about 10 days before the Spring Festival to allow time for workers to travel home. Understand that once the holiday preparation begins, shipments out of the country are impossible. There is no way to avoid CNY. It happens every year and requires advanced planning to minimize interruptions for your business.
Start preparations by analyzing sales patterns of previous years to understand how much inventory you’ll need surrounding the Chinese New Year. Stock up on inventory accordingly to ensure you’ll have enough product to last you through the holiday.
Here’s a tip: Look at what orders your business needs to receive in March. Since all exports will be closed for the Chinese New Year, arrange for 50% of the March volume to be delivered in January and 50% in February instead.
Remember to plan for after CNY. Factories are often slow to ramp back up after the New Year. With workers travelling and some opting to switch positions over the holiday, it’s important to plan for factory delays for 3-4 weeks after the holiday as well.
In addition to factories taking time off for New Year, many of the trucking companies and air and ocean carriers do as well. This leads to heavy volumes of shipments before the holidays and a limited amount of space. With increased demand and limited supply, the price rises on shipments made right before the holiday.
Additionally, waiting too long to book cargo pick-up runs the risk of carriers meeting max capacity and shipment delaying until after the holiday. Keep costs low and stay prepared by booking 14 to 21 days before your cargo is ready for pick up.
In a mad dash before the holiday, factories often rush to fulfill orders. This last-minute scramble leads to more quality issues than normal as the pressure rises to get product out the door. After the holiday, many factories need to hire new workers to replace any who opted to change positions during the holiday break. These new workers may make more mistakes as they go through training and the factory gets back up to speed.
To avoid a damaged shipment right before CNY, order in advanced and step up your inspection efforts. This gives your business time to inspect incoming orders and rectify any shipments with low quality standards. Having a quality management plan in place will reduce the risk of shipping defective goods to your customer’s door.
Know the Effects of the Chinese New Year and Plan for Success
While the date changes each year, the Chinese New Year is an inevitable annual occurrence. With proper planning and a keen understanding of the holiday, your business won’t skip a beat during this season.