Freight 101 Blog

How to Avoid Lunar New Year Shipping Delays in 2024

Lunar New Year 2024, also known as Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival, is right around the corner. For importers and exporters, the holiday means limited operations, labor shortages, and delayed shipping. But you can avoid the holiday rush and supply chain disruptions.

Lunar New Year 2024, also known as Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival, is right around the corner. For importers and exporters, the holiday means limited operations, labor shortages, and delayed shipping. But you can avoid the holiday rush and supply chain disruptions.

Keep reading to learn about:

  • The effects of the Lunar New Year on shipping
  • How long Lunar New Year affects shipping
  • How to prepare your shipments for any Lunar New Year shipping delays

When is Lunar New Year in 2024?

In China, Lunar New Year is one of the most significant festivals of the year, marked by a two-week-long celebratory period. Like Golden Week, many people travel to visit their families.

The holiday typically begins in late January, with exact dates varying according to the lunar calendar. In 2024, Lunar New Year falls on February 10th. Festivities run for around two weeks, with the first seven days considered a public holiday. The Lantern Festival, which marks the end of the period, will be on February 24, 2024.

Be aware that preparations for the holiday typically begin three weeks before the actual dates.

How long does Lunar New Year affect shipping?

Here’s what the period of Lunar New Year looks like in 2024:

Mid-December 2023Production begins to slow down at factories
Late January, 2024Factories stop manufacturing; peak export rush at major Chinese ports to ship out goods
Early February, 2024Workers start to leave for the holidays; ports have limited operational capacity
February 9-16, 2024Lunar New Year holiday week
Mid-February, 2024 Workers start returning to factories and ports*

* It takes approximately 1-2 weeks for operations to return to normal levels.

The effects of Lunar New Year on shipping

China is a significant hub for imports and exports, especially ocean freight shipping. As a result, slowdowns in China affect the global supply chain network.

During the new year celebrations, ports, factories, and shipping companies limit operations,  with some even halting activities altogether. This means supply chain disruptions:

  • High shipment volumes before the holidays
  • Increased rates due to limited capacity
  • Longer wait times or lack of availability for containers
  • Increased costs for importers and exporters such as demurrage and detention
  • Worker shortages, leading to delivery delays and less customer service availability

How to prepare your shipments for Lunar New Year 

Understand your supply chain needs

Get a clear picture of your shipping requirements and average transit times. Then, try to plan your shipments several weeks in advance of the New Year to prevent delays.

Use data to keep your inventory stocked

Review your past customer behavior and orders during the new year season. Use this data to predict how much inventory you need andtry to stock up on what you need in advance.

Split your goods into multiple small shipments

If you need to ship a container’s worth of goods around Lunar New Year, consider dividing your shipment into multiple deliveries instead, using different LCL shipments with separate bills of lading. This minimizes the risks of shipping delays in case one of the containers or carriers is running late.

5 tips to avoid shipping delays during Lunar New Year 2024

Work with multiple logistics partners

Working with multiple service providers can help reduce bottlenecks and increase your business operational efficiency. This is especially true during the holiday season when you might find that some providers are booked or delayed.

Use multiple shipping modes 

If you usually ship ocean freight, consider alternate modes such as air or rail if possible. Even better, use a combination of different modes. Shipping your freight in different ways helps move goods faster during peak season.

Choose ports with less congestion

If your destination port faces holiday congestion, consider alternate ports with lower congestion or import volumes. A longer route may actually be faster during high-traffic seasons.

Use different container types

20ft containers are the most commonly booked shipping containers. If possible, ship your goods with other containers such as 40ft, high cube, or side-door containers. These containers may offer lower rates than usual.

Keep a “just-in-case” budget

Whenever you’re shipping, delays can happen, and this is especially true during holiday seasons. Budget for additional freight costs to hit your inventory goals during these periods.

Ready to get your freight moving?

READ MORE: Exporting from China and Importing to the US: A Guide

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