The Lunar New Year is a special time of year that brings with it joy, merriment and an expected gap in global supply chains that companies must annually plan around. Around late January or early February, the traditionally Asian holiday kicks off a fifteen-day celebration that marks the start of the new lunar cycle. This year’s celebration begins January 22 and marks the end of the Year of the Tiger, and the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit.
From mainland China to other countries celebrating Lunar New Year, including Korea, Vietnam and Thailand, the holiday is revered for being a time of reflection, gratitude, and renewal. It’s also a time when businesses slow down to give employees a break. Many workers live far from their families and this downturn gives them time to travel and be together. Not just factories are closed, but customs agencies who must authorize imports and exports are closed as well. As a result goods not already released prior to the holiday must wait for government officials to return. This means that those in logistics and shipping will have to plan ahead and allow extra time for shipments, because it will cause delays ranging from one week to three weeks or more.
Importers should place orders well in advance so they ship prior to holiday closures. Exporters should delay arrivals in these countries until businesses reopen to avoid paying for storage or demurrage charges at airports and seaports. With proper planning, the inventory and delivery gap created by Lunar New Year closures can be easily accommodated.
While unable to control what happens overseas, STG monitors this holiday season knowing the pre-holiday spikes that, like a wave, will hit weeks later as vessels carrying cargo arrive. Likewise, we know the gap that is created, both in terms of goods being exported and capacity being reduced is thanks to annual blanked sailings, meaning that when goods once again begin arriving there is a sense of urgency to quickly recover, make available, transload or move to inland destinations.
STG uses this quiet time on the eastbound transpacific to our benefit, conducting facility and equipment maintenance, deploying technology upgrades and updates, and delivering new and recurrent training and certifications for our employees.
For our clients celebrating the holiday, we wish you 새해 복 많이 받으세요, 新年快樂, 新年快乐, chúc mừng năm mới, or just plain old “Happy New Year.”