Holidays are here again
The summer holidays have arrived. For most people this means at least some time off work to kick back, relax and not worry about what’s going on at the office.
For importers and exporters, holidays don’t always offer relaxation. Instead they can bring delays, headaches and stress.
Go-Slow in the UK
It’s common during August for many businesses to slow down. Staffing is reduced as workers take annual leave to be with their family. Decisions are delayed and enquiries take that bit longer to process.
For importers and exporters, it’s wise to take all this into account. Shipments are not usually heavily delayed, but expectations need to be broadened and contingencies put into place.
It’s much the same during other seasonal UK holidays.
In particular, Christmas, which can bring a certain amount of mayhem. A good example of this is where US exporters import into the UK. The US does not close down for Christmas in the same way as the UK, on top of this, December is the US year end, meaning that US exporters usually want their shipments out and gone before the end of December.
Problems occur when these shipments hit the stagnant UK Christmas period and end up sitting at the airport for a fortnight, while the Brits gorge on turkey dinners and over excess.
Around the World
Other countries have similar issues at different times of year.
Most people are aware of Chinese New Year and it’s impact on shipping. For the vast proportion of the population, Chinese New Year is their family time. China essentially shuts down for a month, and sometimes longer, as workers return to their families, sometimes hundreds of miles away – and sometimes don’t return either.
This means that hundreds of thousands of factories, in the world’s workshop that make everything from toys to televisions, shut down for a considerable period.
Exporting or to or importing from the middle east during Ramadan and Eid is also fraught with complications.
Where Ramadan falls in summer months, many businesses will work half days, to accommodate their workers need for rest without food. During the following celebration of Eid, don’t expect anyone to be open and dealing with your shipment personally.
The causes of delay
One of the key reasons for logistical delays during these times is the congestion at port. To counter this, shipping lines often have to leave containers behind, even if there is a valid booking.
This can often mean you either have to wait another week for your container to go on the weekly scheduled departure day of that vessel or at least wait a few more days for the container to be loaded onto a different vessel.
Not the ideal outcome for businesses reliant on speedy and efficient shipping.
One of the most common questions is how much does the “freight rate” increase during these times. It is an extremely difficult question to answer as freight rates depend on a number of factors, both domestic and global.
However, as a rule of thumb freight rates before national holidays can rise sharply, and in the 2 weeks before the Chinese New Year holiday, they can go up by as much as 100%.
How to overcome the issues?
The simple way is to plan – and don’t delay in your planning, either!
There are numerous websites that will help you understand when different countries will be having national holidays or festivals, but talking to your freight forwarder is the safest option.
Don’t wait to be told. There is nothing worse that being told about a problem as it’s happening, or even afterwards. By researching international holidays and festivals, and building contingencies planning 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.
When it comes to issues that cause serious delay, such as Chinese New Year, it’s important to get shipments to port early to ensure shipping occurs before the break starts.
Shipments must also be booked at least two weeks in advance because space will quickly fill up. If you ship a large amount around that time, then congestion will likely bump at least one of your shipments to a later ship date, often a week after Chinese New Year.
Filling containers and preparing customs declaration documents well in advance of any holidays is an advisable step to take.
Use our network
Another advisable step is to make sure your freight forwarder has a network of overseas partners who know and understand how local festivals and holidays will affect your shipping.
They can confirm local conditions, they have local knowledge that will help you avoid the main trouble spots, and they can make the extra effort to deal directly with your consignment that a forwarder three thousand miles away simply can’t.
At Freedom Logistics we are currently working with a network of overseas partners in 126 locations in 71 countries.
Through their expert local knowledge we are able to make sure our clients consignments are shipped and delivered and that we can plan ahead to beat the holiday traffic and gridlock.
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