Shipping delay on Lunar New Year 2023

What is Lunar New Year (often referred to as Chinese New Year)?

Lunar New Year, which is also commonly called Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, celebrates the beginning of the New Year on the traditional Chinese calendar. It is celebrated in many countries throughout Asia, for example in Vietnam, the holiday is called Tet, the full name is "Tet Nguyen Dan".

When is Lunar New Year 2023?

According to the Chinese lunar calendar 2023, Chinese New Year 2023 will fall on Sunday, January 22nd, 2023, celebrations continue until the Lantern Festival which will be on February 5th, 2023.

How long is the Lunar New Year holiday 2023?

The legal holiday in China is usually seven days long but can differ from country to country. Generally, it starts from the Lunar New Year's Eve, otherwise known as Spring Festival Eve, to the sixth day of the first lunar month.

chinese new year celebrations infohraphic
Understanding Chinese New year
Source: chinahighlights

What are the dates for the Lunar New Year holiday in 2023?

The holiday starts from Spring Festival Eve, so in 2023 it is from Jan. 21st to Jan.27th. In some cases, the holiday period may allow for extended time off for workers. The Lunar New Year dates change every year because the festival is based on the Chinese lunar calendar. We advise getting your shipments prepared and ready because many factories will shut down in China and other countries celebrating the lunar calendar.

For how long do they shut factories down?

Most factories in China close one week before the Chinese New Year, and don’t have the production up and running again until two to three weeks after the holiday. In total, Chinese New Year factory shutdown corresponds to 3 to 4 weeks, which today has a huge impact on manufacturing globally.

Keep in mind that production is also slower than usual for a couple of weeks after production has begun again, which means that it is a total of a whole quarter that is affected for importers and manufacturing companies in Asia.

Empty Factory

Are there any factories open during this period?

Nope, there are no factories in China that are open during the Chinese New Year. Ports and some other services are still up and running but with reduced capacity.
Why is this?
It’s a legal requirement in China that all workers are off from work during this period. For many workers this is also the only time of year when they have the opportunity to meet and spend some time with their children and parents.
Despite this, many importers try to demand that their factories be kept open, but no exceptions are made. During the Chinese New Year, everything is closed.

What about other Asian countries, do their factories close as well?

Vietnam celebrates Tet, which occurs on the exact same date as the Chinese New Year. Factories in Vietnam are closed for about 2 weeks, which is slightly shorter than their counterparts in China. However, Vietnamese manufacturers are indirectly affected, as large quantities of materials and components are imported from China, during production in Vietnam.
Ok great so the factories are not functioning for a 100% for roughly a quarter a year, what about all the freight services that are connected to the factories. Are they still functioning as normal?

Do you happen to know the answers to those questions and want to skip forward to the "how"? Download the top 3 strategies to avoid a Chinese New Year logistics struggle.

Map of Asia

Is shipping from China during Chinese New Year possible at all?

Ironically yes, sea and air transport work pretty much as usual during this period. However, no goods can be delivered from the factory, to the nearest port or airport. Once the door is closed at your factory, there is no staff who can handle the shipping.
So not sure that it will help you get your goods delivered to your warehouse anyway. Ok what about the handling of goods, what is there to consider?

Open container - What will happen to my goods

What about Chinese New Year shipping delays?

Since production puts on halt, you can be sure that your goods that are in production will highly likely get off schedule.
If you have goods that are in production, or waiting for delivery, our advice is not to pay the supplier before the Chinese New Year.
No matter what they claim, the goods will usually not be sent faster.

Will the quality of the goods be affected?

The quality of your goods might get affected negatively, both before and after the holiday period around the Chinese New Year.
This is because the factories, before the holiday, tend to stress their staff to get orders ready before they close, which of course has a negative impact on quality.
Like that wasn’t enough a large number of workers do not return after the New Year. There is a risk that they stay at home in the provinces and start working at another factory. This leads to the fact that the factories when reopen, after the holiday, they must recruit and train new staff which then will affect the quality.

Factory workers going on holidayIn some cases, as many as 25% of all workers may quit after the Chinese New Year and not return to their factories. It will therefore be critical that the goods are carefully quality controlled, both for deliveries that take place shortly before, or immediately after the Chinese New Year.

How will transportation and logistics services be impacted by the Chinese New Year holiday? 

The Chinese New Year holiday is a time for family reunions, a lot of people travel across China back to their hometowns to visit their parents and relatives. Thus a special phenomenon called Spring Festival Travel Rush or Spring Festival Migration arises before and after the Chinese New Year, every year so workers can spend time with family and friends who live further afield. In previous holidays in China, due to the COVID zero policy, less travel has happened to avoid the potential of COVID outbreaks. 

China has adjusted its COVID prevention and control policies. The focus has shifted from infection prevention to severe case prevention. Starting from January 8th, the country has downgraded the management of COVID-19 from Class A to Class B.  With this shift in rules, this year’s Spring Festival travel rush, which kicked off on Saturday January 7th is expected to surge 99.5% compared to the same period last year to reach nearly 2.1 billion. 

In usual circumstances, many workers head to their home towns and quite often, factories release them from duties as early as the middle of January. In general, workers resume work after Lantern Festival. There are also some workers who decide to stay in the city where they work during the holiday, this enables factories to at least provide skeleton cover of work during the holiday season. Frequently, production sites will issue an office closure notice for Chinese New Year.

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