The 2016 Chinese Lunar New Year will be on Feb. 8 and it is the year of the Monkey. Think Christmas but the date varies based on the lunar calendar, however, it normally falls between mid-Jan to end of Feb.
As important as the Chinese New Year is for those celebrating across Asia and around the world, it should also be significantly important for importers and those working with Chinese manufacturers. The Chinese New Year basically shuts down all production facilities throughout the country and it's usually much more than a 3-day weekend.
Experienced importers are usually well aware of this time and the delay they can expect for shipments coming out of China around this time. The time is especially crucial for those that have businesses selling seasonal merchandise such as apparel and sporting goods. Failing to implement proper precautions during the Chinese New Year can result in heavy losses for businesses. And the variable date is one of the factors that can usually lead to confusion and planning complexities.
So what do you need to know as we approach the year of the Monkey?
- Usually all production and sample development is halted a week to 2 weeks prior to Chinese New Years Eve.
It's hard to put it in perspective if you haven't been in China during this time. Majority of factory workers are going back and forth to their hometowns, combined with families traveling around China to visit relatives.
- Production is usually suspended for at least 2 weeks after the Chinese New Year
While the holiday itself lasts roughly 5 days, most people seize the opportunity and extend the holiday by an extra week or two. So you may not be able to reach someone for 2 weeks or more about your order during this time.
- Getting back to normal is sometimes a struggle
Think about that first Monday after your 2-week long vacation. Well it's similar in a way and many manufacturers do struggle to get back into normal mode, but they eventually do.
So to recap, the Chinese New Year can turn into a 2-3 week shutdown for most factories and it's a time of the year where majority of the people in the country are traveling. As a good rule of thumb, importers should do their research on the holiday and proactively schedule their orders and deliveries well before everyone gets in vacation mode.
Also keep in mind that leading up to the Chinese New Year, your supplier is probably rushing to fulfill orders for most of their buyers and get them shipped before they post the 'We'll Be Back' sign on their doors. It is on you as a buyer to ensure that proper quality control standards are met during this time by making sure you hire a local inspector to perform a pre or post manufacturing inspection.
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