Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is arguably the most important Chinese national holiday. It starts on the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar, and runs until the Lantern Festival, the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese calendar. As it is not based on the Gregorian calendar, the exact dates change every year.
So technically the holiday lasts for a good two weeks, however in practice companies close to about three weeks, and in some extreme cases even four weeks. Local governments and banks close down as well, but in general for a week or less. Most of the restaurants and stores will be open during the holiday, though business hours are adjusted so all staff can be with their families to celebrate the holiday. Local offices of third party shippers such as FedEx, UPS, and TNT take a break, one of the reasons for this is that Customs close for the holiday as well. There is no exporting shipments without clearance.
During the holiday all production comes to a halt. What affects suppliers and distributors the most, is the fact that every factory has their own holiday schedule. Some might stop working a week before the holiday actually starts, whereas some might stop working only a few days in advance. To make things worse, workers might even leave for their hometown on a different date, or come back a while after the actual holiday ends. Suppliers and distributors should be aware that production capacity the week before CNY and the week after CNY will not be at a hundred percent. Realistically speaking production stops for two or three weeks, and will be running at 50-70% the week before and after the holiday.
Weeks before the holiday even begins the first signs are seen. Factories notify their customers of the upcoming holiday, and with that, also deadlines they have for accepting orders. Deadlines often seem very strict, however keep in mind that your supplier has to take their partner’s deadlines into account as well. The majority of the most popular promotional products consist out of parts that come from various different suppliers which each having different holiday schedules.
The best way to prepare yourself is to check with your suppliers their holiday schedules as early as possible. That way it’s easier to anticipate down the road, and also prevents you from accepting orders that cannot be delivered in time. Many suppliers and distributors miss out on orders during this period. This, however, is better than missing an event and disappointing your customer. In many cases your honesty will be appreciated, and perhaps other arrangements can be made.
In order to minimize the delays for ongoing orders and orders in the making, we at Emperor ensure that plenty of stock is available before the holiday so we can work around our suppliers deadlines. Aside from that we always have stock available in our US office, ready to be sent out on short notice. Our talented design team is on call, which means we can get your order ready for production, even when other suppliers have their hands tied!
Although the Chinese New Year holiday can be frustrating for suppliers, distributors, and also end customers, with a good preparation you can work around the difficulties that will surely cross your path. Monday February 8th 2016 Chinese New Year is upon us again. No need to worry about it just yet, we will give you a heads up in plenty of time!
Wouter Savelkoul hails from Susteren, Netherlands, and is a senior sales representative for Emperor, based in its China office and manages accounts primarily in Europe & Canada. Aside from business development he also often takes out his pen USB and writes articles on Asian manufacturing, QC/QA, and anything else directly related to the promotional products industry.