Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in China, which changes trade rules for several weeks. The holiday date is based on the traditional lunar Chinese calendar, so it falls on a different date every year. This is very important for importers from all over the world, because during this period, there are great difficulties in sourcing and shipping from China. In the article below, we present how the Chinese celebrate the Chinese New Year 2024 and provide tips on how importers should prepare for this challenging period.
Chinese New Year 2024 and imports
What is Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival (chūnjié, 春节), is the most important and awaited period in China. According to the traditional lunar calendar, in 2024, the start of the holiday season will fall on February 10. It will end after 15 days with the Lantern Festival (shàngyuánjié, 上元节). It marks the beginning of the Year of the Dragon.
Traditions related to the Spring Festival
Traditionally, the holiday focused on welcoming the new year and worshipping deities and ancestors. Nowadays, it is about families getting together. During this period, the red envelopes with money (hóngbāo, 红包) are gifted.
The holiday is based on family values and reunification, which can be compared to Christmas or Thanksgiving holidays. It is a period when people meet and celebrate by sharing traditional dishes. During the holiday season, we can also notice doors decorated with signs signifying blessing (fú, 福) and great happiness (xǐ, 囍).
Spring Festival and mass migration chūnyùn
In order to illustrate the importance of this event, it should be noted that during the Chinese New Year, the largest human migration takes place. It is estimated that the Chinese make approximately 3 billion trips during this time.
Mass migration is related to the rapid economic growth of China in the late 1970s, when, after the introduction of economic reforms and China’s opening to the world, many factories were established in cities, and the demand for workers increased. For this reason, people from less developed and less wealthy provinces began migrating to bigger cities to find employment. This situation means that until now, most of the workers at production plants located on China’s eastern coast have been from poorer provinces. Employees often leave their children with their grandparents when moving to work, and the Chinese New Year period is the only time of the year when they can see their loved ones.
Spring Festival an importing from China
For importers, the Chinese New Year period means difficult and limited contact with business partners in China, as well as delays in deliveries. The official public holiday lasts only 7 days, but businesses usually close for longer periods. Factories often close a week before the actual Spring Festival date to give workers the opportunity to return home. This return trip often takes 3 to 7 days. Employees who have worked a lot of overtime throughout the year exchange it for additional vacation days, which allows them to spend more time with their families.
Due to mass migration and staff shortage, factories often regain their total processing capacity only 3-4 weeks after the start of the celebration, which affects business with Chinese partners. Often, not only the time needed to complete already placed orders increases but also the time needed to accept new orders.
Moreover, since manufacturers want to close the year with a “clean slate,” they often rush the production process. In such a situation, you can expect reduced quality and products that do not meet the quality requirements of the ordered products. Employees working under time pressure will not pay as much attention to detail and quality as before.
It is worth mentioning that many experienced employees do not return to their workplaces after the Chinese New Year. This means there are a lot of new workers, often inexperienced ones, which also affects the quality and production time.
Another very important problem related to production and import from China is the shortage of raw materials. Factories usually work with raw materials from their suppliers. If they halt deliveries, there is no material to work with for manufacturers, and there are longer delays.
Spring Festival and transportation from China
Transport-related problems arise very often during this period. Due to special circumstances, the transport price increases significantly. Shipping products by sea, land, and air is more expensive as volume increases and capacity and available means of transport decrease.
- Sea transport: The last cargo will be shipped on February 2. The shipments will resume on February 18.
- Rail and road transport: Loads will be shipped until January 30, then on February 8 or 13. The situation will normalize on February 18-19.
- Air transport: Dispatch is scheduled until January 30; if the cargo is ready in the city of origin, shipping is possible on February 5-7. After this time, operations will resume on February 19.
How to survive the Chinese New Year when doing business with China?
Due to the overall factory shutdown during the Spring Festival, it is worth taking some steps to maintain good cooperation with Chinese business partners. Maintaining good relations with partners, the so-called guanxi (guānxì, 关系), is extremely important in China. This affects relationships between companies and allows for building long and lasting cooperation. Therefore, importers should send CNY wishes to their Chinese business partners.
To prepare for the Chinese New Year period, plan ahead and order products several months in advance. In addition, you need to be patient and prepare for the case when there is no goods flow during and shortly after the Chinese New Year. In order to reduce the risk of reduced quality of products delivered before the holiday season, we recommend conducting more frequent on-site quality control.
Cooperation with reliable and reliable suppliers is extremely important. We encourage you to verify the company, which will allow you to check and make sure whether the potential business partner meets your requirements and is not a scammer, which happens a lot.
Chinese New Year 2024 – summary
- In 2024, the Chinese New Year will fall on February 10.
- The Chinese New Year period means limited to no contact with business partners in China.
- Even though the official public holiday lasts only a week, you should expect a longer break and factory shutdown.
- Order your goods several months in advance to avoid the Chinese New Year rush.
- The cost of shipping by sea, land, and air during the holiday season is much higher than normal.
- You should choose a proven and reliable supplier and make sure to maintain a good mutual relationship – guanxi.
- Increased quality control will reduce the risk of receiving products of subpar quality due to the rushed production before the Chinese New Year period.