The Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) has always been an important part of the Chinese culture. All factories throughout China will close down for the New Year celebrations which allows workers to travel back to their hometowns to spend time with their families. China has a population of over 1 billion people, which makes this period a nightmare for internal travel within China. All flights, coaches, trains and motorways are sold out and usually have significant travel delays.
The holiday is based on the Chinese Traditional Calendar instead of the Gregorian calendar used by the western world. The date for this year’s Spring festival is 16th of February 2018 when the Chinese will celebrate the welcoming of the year of the dog. Most of the factories will begin to shut down 1 week before the 16th, with some factories not reopening until early March.
How does this affect factory production lead times?
The Chinese New Year shutdown period causes significant production delays. Leading up to the holidays, factories will become very busy trying to finish all promised orders so they will often stop accepting orders 4-6 weeks before they shutdown. They may even not be able to finish and ship all orders before the holidays, so some orders may not be sent out until they return in another 3-4 weeks! During this holiday period some of the factory’s salesmen will still be contactable but will only be able to provide limited information and answers during this period. After the holiday period the factories restart their production lines and face a huge backlog of orders from all around the world. To put it simply, the large volume orders will be treated with high priority (multiple 40’ container orders) whilst the smaller orders will be put to the back of the queue. It may take up to a month or more for some of the factories to return to their usual production lead times. Because the Chinese New Year period is always a very disruptive period, you should place your orders well in advance and allow for enough stock to get you through their holiday period.
Some fun facts about Chinese New Year
There is the world's biggest annual fireworks usage!
4% of the world's population is on the move
The holiday is oddly called 'Spring Festival'
It is a festival for 1/5th of the world's population
The date varies every year
Billions of red envelopes are exchanged
Don't try to travel China within Chinese New Year!