Golden Week. National Day. Call it what you will. The holiday has been celebrated in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau since 2000. It is one of two such weeks celebrated each year where the country virtually closes and business comes to a standstill. National Day this week runs October 1st thru October 7th this year. That sounds like more than a day, but I digress.
Implemented by the government to encourage domestic tourism and allow families to make long distance family visits, some 480 million Chinese will travel between October 1st and 7th. It is cherished by the denizens of the People’s Republic nationwide. By shipper’s, not so much.
With the peak of the holiday season looming, it couldn’t come at a worse time for importers of goods from China. With virtually all businesses closed, factories are idled, many cargo flights are cancelled and ports operate with skeleton crews. Very little moves in or out.
It is even difficult to get shipping quotes during this week.
To add insult to injury, huge backlogs of orders and freight tend to pile up in advance of, and immediately after the holiday, leaving shippers scrambling for space and rates at a premium.
So what is a shipper to do?
Unfortunately, options are few. Plan ahead is the best advice. Don’t put yourself into a situation where you need a time critical shipment during this week (or the spring time equivalent). It is not likely to happen. It is also important to manage the expectations of your own customers during this period, as many Westerners are unfamiliar with the holiday custom.
Or perhaps, it’s time to book a vacation of your own. The crowds are gone, the kids are back in school and the water is still warm.
If you cant’t beat ’em, join ’em!