When is Chinese New Year 2017?
Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is the biggest Chinese celebration of the year. In 2017, Chinese New Year (CNY) will take place from Saturday, January 28 to Thursday, February 2.
What will Chinese New Year closures look like?
Factories will be closed for the entire week of Chinese New Year. Most factory workers will travel a long way to spend the holiday with their families, so there will be additional closings, delays, and disruptions occurring in the weeks before and after CNY, as workers make the trips to and from their hometowns. All in all, factories are closed and/or operating at diminished capacity for at least 4 weeks.
In anticipation of Chinese New Year, ocean and air freight rates will increase significantly; we expect to see these higher rates as early as mid-December 2016. Rates should begin decreasing 1-2 weeks after Chinese New Year.
Additionally, space will become more difficult to secure, and carriers will be overbooked earlier than usual. Truckers will be also difficult to secure before CNY, and their services will be more expensive.
How much will freight rates increase?
Ocean carriers have already announced General Rate Increases (GRI) for the Far East Asia to United States and Canada, effective as of December 15th, 2016; January 1st, 2017; January 15th, 2017; and February 1, 2017:
December 15: USD 540 / 600 / 600 for 20’/40’/40’HC (this was mitigated about 50%)
January 1: USD 900 / 1000 / 1000 for 20’/40’/40’HC (implemented at $400/40’)
January 15: USD 540 / 600 / 600 for 20’/40’/40’HC
February 1: USD 400 / 500 / 500 for 20’/40’/40’HC
These are pretty high announced rate increases! But just because carriers have announced them doesn’t mean that they’ll be exactly this high. In the current market, it’s possible that the GRIs will be mitigated (implemented at a lower rate).
Carriers will launch their blank sailing programs in late December / early 2017. They will likely make this announcement as late as possible to retain unpredictability in the market, in an effort to make GRI/PSS stick. We are working very closely with our partners, and with the carriers, to stay in the loop; we’ll be sharing updates as additional information becomes available.
How can I prepare for Chinese New Year?
The best strategy is to plan ahead and work closely with us. You should plan to book your transportation (especially ocean) at least three weeks prior to Chinese New Year; the earlier, the better.
Another option is to consider shipping by air -- especially if you have a strict deadline from a retailer or are running out of stock. Keep in mind, though, that air capacity can be tight before Chinese New Year, too, so you won’t want to leave that decision to the last minute. Consider non-direct flight options, and make sure that your connecting flight is outside of China.
If you aren’t able to plan ahead, another strategy is to choose a service with a slightly longer transit time. In general, the fastest transit-time services are more likely to be overbooked; if you select a transit time that’s longer by, say, a couple of days, your cargo is less likely to be rolled to the following week.
If your cargo is traveling inland, another option is to be flexible about the port of discharge. This is also likely to result in a slightly longer transit time, but will allow for more options when choosing a sailing.