Chinese Holidays this Autumn – And the Effects on Shipping
The holidays are over. Children are back at school. Everyone is back at work. Except in China.
Holidays are coming …
Within the next two weeks there are two major holiday’s coming up in China. Mid Autumn Festival which lasts from 15th-19th September. Then Golden Week, starting this year on Saturday 1st October and officially ending on the 7th the effects lasting most likely to 10th October.
During the Mid-Autumn Festival, sons and daughters come back to their parents’ house to have a family reunion. It’s one of the most important holidays in China.
Golden Week or National Day has been celebrated in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau since 2000. It is one of two such weeks of celebration each year where the country virtually closes and business comes to a standstill.
Implemented by the government to encourage domestic tourism and allow families to make long distance family visits, some 480 million Chinese will travel between 30th September and 10th October.
Implications for shippers to and from China
The outcome of these holiday’s is that people will be unavailable. With virtually all businesses closed, factories are idled, many cargo flights are cancelled and ports operate with skeleton crews. Very little moves in or out. It is even difficult to get shipping quotes during this week.
Typically, during Golden Week, fewer shipments are scheduled and carriers shut down part of their shipping lines to ensure that their vessels don’t sail under capacity.
Although this year many carriers have recognised the need for ships to remain in service because of heightened demand, and fewer sailings than usual have been cancelled, it remains essential for importers to be aware of the coming holidays and their implications on goods’ production and shipping cycles out of China.
Carriers need to balance supply and demand during these holidays to avoid unmanageable overcapacity and flights/ships departing at under capacity. Cancelled services are still being announced for Golden Week as they endeavour to balance network capacity to match the reduced demand for the period.
To top it all !
A further demand for container space is expected in the week leading up to Golden Week as inventories are being built up for Black Friday, with Amazon advising their sellers to ship by the 30th September or risk missing their cut off to ensure their product is available for the busiest online sales day of the year.
To add insult to injury, huge backlogs of orders and freight tend to pile up in advance of, and immediately after the holiday, leaving shippers scrambling for space and rates at a premium.
So what is a shipper to do?
What can I do?
Unfortunately, options are few. Plan ahead is the best advice. Don’t put yourself into a situation where you need a time critical shipment during this week (or the spring time equivalent). It is not likely to happen. It is also important to manage the expectations of your own customers during this period, as many Westerners are unfamiliar with the holiday custom.
Predict how these holidays may affect you and plan accordingly. You don’t want to schedule any import during this period. Because your order will not be shipped and your customers won’t like it.
If you need more advice contact our support team who can give you the latest information, and will do their utmost to help you during this time.
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