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Chinese Holidays Affecting Shipping: Golden Week of China | Shutdowns and Shipping Delays

Shipping from China? Make sure to take local holidays into account when planning your supply chain.

Any slowdown in trade in China creates massive challenges for global shippers. That’s why Chinese holidays are a kind of rush hour for shippers around the world, as they struggle to manage their supply chains during these periods.

Golden Week in China 2023

Golden Week is a significant national holiday in China. It is a week-long celebration during which many Chinese people travel and reunite with their families.

Read on to learn more about Golden Week in China and how it impacts global shipping.

golden week china

What is Golden Week in China?

Golden Week is a weeklong celebration in the fall.

During Golden Week, people take part in local festivities, parades, and ceremonies, and travel to visit family. It’s a great week for local tourism, and comes with a surge in domestic and international travel. And, with festive shopping at its peak, it’s a good time for the domestic economy.

For the shipping and logistics industry, the news is not as positive.

The holiday means a shortage of labor at ports to handle the administration and operations of vessels. It also entails chokeholds on trade to and from China. This directly affects global imports and exports and leads to fluctuations in supply chain patterns.

When is Golden Week in China 2023

China Golden Week 2023 will begin on October 1st and end on October 7th. Usually, the holiday lasts for seven days but sometimes continues a bit longer, depending on the lunar calendar.

The week is treated as a national holiday, although to make up for time lost during celebrations, people treat adjacent weekends as regular work days.

Golden Week In China: Impact On Shipping

During Chinese Golden Week, the economy effectively shuts down:

  • Factories close and transport services slow; those that operate are extremely expensive
  • As workers aren’t available at the docks or ports, operations and management are unsteady
  • International businesses typically can’t find carriers or exporters from China
  • Port traffic and congestion are high as loading and unloading is delayed because of  labor shortages

All of these factors lead to a pre-holiday rush, resulting in pressure on supply chain networks and delayed shipments.

The rush season begins affecting shippers about 3-4 weeks before the holiday. This means that starting in September, the rise in demand becomes noticeable.

  • Importers try to finish production before Golden Week and move their shipments in advance
  • Trucking and vessel availability run low before the China Golden Week due to the spike in demands
  • Ocean and air freight prices typically rise and carriers struggle with limited space capacity

Golden Week in China 2023: How to Prepare

Are you shipping from China and want to ensure the timely arrival of your shipments around Golden Week? Here are some tips:

  • Use trusted suppliers who deliver during the rush season
  • Work closely with your forwarder to chart an accurate demand forecast during the peak season to predict ETAs
  • Book your shipments well in advance:
    • For ocean freight, 3-4 weeks ahead of time.
    • For air freight, 1-2 weeks ahead of time.
  • Be flexible with transit times to drive down shipping costs
  • Prioritize your shipments and move the most urgent batches first
  • Consider alternate routes and modes of transport
  • Ship early to avoid the peak rush period

Here are some additional tips to help you prepare for peak seasons.

Other Chinese Holidays That May Impact Shipping

Chinese Holidays 2023-2024

Mid-Autumn Festival29 September 2023
National Day Golden Week1-7 October 2023
Lunar New Year9-15 February 2024
Labor Day29-April to 1-May 2024
Dragon Boat Festival10 June 2024

Note: The timeline of Chinese holidays changes yearly since it follows the lunar calendar.

As it’s hard to connect with Chinese suppliers and other service providers during this time, it’s advisable to track these holidays in advance and prepare accordingly to avoid delays.

Preparing for Chinese Holidays: The Bottom Line

To prepare for Golden Week and other holidays in China, plan shipments, routes, and supply chain needs in advance. Working with trusted freight forwarders helps avoid the seasonal holiday rush and adapt to ever-changing supply chain patterns.

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