What is going on during Chinese New Year?
Being a bag designer and growing up with a handbag manufacturing family business, I believe I could share some useful information with various small business owners. I have covered some low MOQ factories I have previously tried and tested. And in this post, I will share the most important things to look out for when you work with China factories during Chinese New Year.
In China, Chinese New Year is just like Christmas in the western world. It is the most important time of the year for everyone to travel home and spend time with their families. It is officially a week-long holiday but it normally lasts 2-3 weeks! Imagine 340 million migrant workers out of the 1.35 billion people inside the country undergoing a huge migration within 1-2 weeks. So for us small business owners, there are many things we should take into considerations when we work with China factories during this annual festival.
See below for a summary of happenings with timeline, things to avoid, accompanied with best practices.
When is Chinese New Year?
There is no fixed date on the western calendar as the Lunar Calendar is based on a different set of metrics. For 2017, the first day of CNY is on 28th Jan. The easiest way to know when exactly is the coming CNY, you can use this app above for your reference. It has an English option and provides a list of public holidays in China on top of syncing those holidays into your own calendar.
What would actually happen with factories
To give you a brief idea, the followings will be the annual events around the CNY period:
1-2 months before CNY
- factories and their vendors are ready to confirm the last orders aiming to be completed and shipped before CNY
2-3 weeks before CNY:
- all orders are rushed in a 24/7 work mode
- orders will be completed and shipped
- some of the workers who live farthest from the factory will be preparing to go home
- workers are all fighting to book/buy train tickets for the sake of going home on time
- traffic might start to be very congested
- long lines of trucks leading to ports
- deliveries might delay due to traffic, missed vessels or early closing of other material vendors
Final week before CNY:
- final push in completing the last production orders
- factories have no control over the logistics and shipping schedules
- very high risk of late deliveries or even missed vessels
- long story short, it is quite certain for broken supply chains to appear
- more than half of the workers have left for home via train
Start of CNY until 2 weeks after:
- workers are still home
- they might decide to look for another job in a different factory after CNY
- limited logistics services for deliveries
3 weeks after CNY:
- part of the original staffs show up in the factories
- 20-30% of them will probably be late or decided to quit
- factories start to recruit new workers in case those missing ones are not coming back
- start to approach previous clients for new orders and follow up unfinished orders
- traffic starts to get back to normal
- logistics services starting to resume
One month after CNY:
- unfinished orders would probably be handled by a different staff
- production starting to get back to normal
- factories will be training new workers
Things to avoid and top best practices when working with China factories in CNY
Not knowing when CNY is
- you should always keep this most important date on top of your mind. Plan your orders around it.
Placing last-minute orders
- have everything shipped before the rush comes in. Book a vessel date at least 1-2 weeks before CNY.
Depending completely on dropshipping
- if you are adopting the dropshipping model for your business, make sure you get prepared and stock up 1-2 months before CNY.
- calculate your own shipping costs when factories are on holiday during the period
Feel free to let me know if you have any questions about general factory practices in China or Hong Kong. Happy to help!