Golden Week commences on October 1st with China’s National Day, commemorating the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1st, 1949. It is one of the most anticipated annual events on the calendar and the longest public holiday besides Chinese New Year. It is the time of travel and family gatherings.
Unfortunately, as Golden Week falls during the peak season for global freight forwarding (prior to Christmas), it has a significant impact on global freight shipping in general.
During Golden Week all factories in China close down. Government agencies observe the holiday too, so the customs service will operate with significantly reduced resources. Port and airport facilities also run with only a skeleton staff available to handle freight.
If you ship internationally to or from China, Golden Week along with Chinese New Year, is an event for which to plan and prepare. Otherwise, there is a risk that your business will be caught out by potentially damaging supply and inventory issues.
With everyone trying to get space on the ships and aircraft before the golden Week, you can expect freight rates to rise. Shipments in transit at such busy times often get left off their scheduled sailings due to overbooking on the part of the carriers. Domestic trucking services will also be faced with high demand and increasing costs in turn.
Things don’t get much better in the weeks immediately after Golden Week. The factory closures during the holiday result in a sudden decline in goods available for shipping. Consequently, in the case of of ocean freight, carriers may cancel sailings to ensure their vessels aren’t underutilised.
It’s important to be aware of Golden Week’s impact on shipments to or from China, so you can plan and prepare. If you are importing into China, arrival of goods at least a week or two before National Day would be recommended. If you are importing from China, try to avoid having any ocean freight scheduled to depart from Chinese ports in the last two weeks of September, or in the week after Golden Week. For air freight, avoid departures in the week before or the week after the holiday.
Finally, it can be worth educating your customers about Golden Week and the possibility of shipping disruptions. If they know that early October is a risky time for stock availability, they might be encouraged to adjust their buying patterns. That, in turn, will reduce pressure on your stock levels and help you avoid the need to ship during (or close to) the Golden Week shutdown.