How do I get ready for the Chinese New Year (CNY)?

When is New Year 2019 in China?

The largest Chinese New Year celebration of the year is Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival. Chinese New Year (CNY) will be celebrated February 3-9 in 2019.

What will the closures of the Chinese New Year look like?

Chinese New Year’s factories will be closed throughout the week. Many factory workers will travel a long way to spend their holidays with their families, so in the weeks before and after CNY there will be more closures, delays and disturbances when workers move to and from their hometowns. All in all, for at least 4 weeks, factories are closed and/or operating at a reduced capacity.

Ocean and air freight rates will rise sharply in anticipation of the Chinese New Year; we expect to see these higher rates as early as mid-December 2017. Tariffs should start to decrease after Chinese New Year for 1-2 weeks.

Additionally, space will become more difficult to secure, and earlier than usual carriers will be overbooked. Truckers are also going to be hard to attract before CNY and their services are going to be more expensive.

How much is going to increase freight rates?

General Rate Increases (GRI) will be announced by ocean carriers as the holiday approaches.

In late December / early 2018, carriers will launch their blank sailing programmes. In an effort to make GRI / PSS stick, they will probably make this announcement as late as possible to retain unpredictability on the market. Carriers can add additional capacity to match demand, depending on the strength of the market.

To stay in the loop, we work very closely with our partners and the carriers; as additional information becomes available, we will share updates.

How is space going to be affected?

Space will be tight before the Chinese New Year, and most services will be full.

Carriers will have more blank sailings after the Chinese New Year to better align demand capacity. This will mean less travel and services available after CNY in the week or two.

How can I prepare for New Year in China?

Planning ahead and working closely with us is the best strategy. You should plan at least three weeks before the Chinese New Year to book your transportation (especially ocean); the earlier, the better. Share a forecast with your Prime Freight team as far as possible.

Check in on the ready date of the shipment. Closely follow up on the Cargo Ready Date with your suppliers— these can often change ahead of the Chinese New Year as factories are operating at maximum capacity.

Multiple containers: If you are transporting multiple containers, it is recommended that these be divided between several lading bills. This way, it won’t impact all of your containers if your shipment is rolled.

Think about air: Another choice is to consider air shipping— especially if you have a retailer’s strict deadline or run out of inventory. Keep in mind, though, that air capacity may also be tight before the Chinese New Year, so you won’t want to leave that decision to the last minute (especially given the air freight market’s strength).

Shorter transit time: When you can’t plan ahead, choose a service with a slightly longer transit time is another option. Generally speaking, the shortest transit-time services are more likely to be overbooked; if you choose a transit time that is longer than, say, a few days, your cargo is less likely to be rolled up to the next week.

Port of Discharge: Another choice is to be flexible about the port of discharge if your cargo moves inland. This is also likely to result in a slightly longer transit time, but more choices will be available when choosing a sail.