How to Prepare for Lunar (Chinese) New Year
Lunar New Year will begin on February 5, 2019. Lunar New Year is generally accompanied by ten days of silence from your suppliers, agents, and partners in China. It is a major holiday in China, which is why communication declines so precipitously. This time may cause challenges for importers worldwide doing business with China.
As factories work overtime to produce in preparation for their staff leaving for ten days, their factory floors run out of space. Bookings with carriers surge as everyone rushes to get goods in route to destination. At the same time, carriers are preparing for annual contract negotiations with large clients by attempting to keep the current rates very high and lock-in higher contract negotiation starting points. Therefore, carriers frequently reduce sailings at this time or pull vessels out of rotation. As a consequence, vessels are heavily over-booked and the cargo does not load as booked, sitting awaiting available space. This is referred to as “rolling” (i.e. the act of rolling the cargo to the next vessel…or the one after that).
Faced with these ocean shipping challenges there is often a corresponding shift of ocean cargo to air freight. Air shipping experiences the same uptick in demand as goods that are ordinarily shipped by air must be pushed out of factories before they close. The combination makes air freight space precious and costly.
There is no guaranteed remedy but planning ahead can reduce risk and cost. We advise importers to plan at least two weeks for bookings and another week for ETA in case there are any delays. There is usually a few weeks after Lunar New Year when congestion is high so plan accordingly.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your Norman Krieger representative.