Chinese New Year break: Will it affect your business?
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Chinese New Year break: Will it affect your business?

Chinese New Year might seem like a short event here in the UK, but it’s understandably far more significant in China itself. If your business relies on Chinese companies for trading and supplies, you’ll need to be ready for some delays.

Many Chinese businesses give their staff 10 days to 3 working weeks to travel to see family across the country, and sometimes across the world. In 2015, “an estimated 80 million workers…travelled by road, train and plane back to their rural hometowns”. In the meantime, many factories and exporters close down for an extended period.

The Chinese New Year timeline:

2nd Feb – Some factories stop production completely.

9th-13th Feb – All staff will leave the factories and workplaces.

16th Feb – Chinese New Year.

6th March – Staff start to return to work, but some are still on holiday.

13th March – Large majority of staff are back at work.

28th March – Operations are nearly back to normal, but still a bit slow. 

This annual ‘holiday migration’ can cause disruptions to shipping and ordering schedules before the New Year break as well as during. Ports are busier, freights cost more, and transit times can be longer, meaning your goods could be more expensive and take longer to arrive.

Because of the increased demand and stretched resources, there could be quality issues or mix-ups with products in January. After this initial rush, nothing will leave China until the break ends in March. If you’re planning for next year, it’s worth remembering that Chinese New Year 2019 is even earlier – 5th Feb.

Remember – production is slow for weeks after

When the break is over, businesses won’t be back to normal for a while. To be on the safe side, assume it won’t be business as usual until at least late April. The supply chain needs to catch up to the pre-holiday demand.

The New Year break is also a popular time for people to switch jobs, and many use their return to work as a clean break. New staff can mean more need for training and induction periods, so your usual supplier might be less of a well-oiled machine than usual.

Use the time to focus on other forms of business development

Some of your suppliers have temporarily closed down, but there are many things you can do to develop your business in the meantime. Make the most of your current inventory, plan events and promotions, and you could even take advantage of the ‘downtime’ to make crucial renovations to your premises.

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