We can all relate to the inconvenience and frustration of needing to do business on a long weekend like Independence Day in the US or Labour Day in Canada. We often end up gritting our teeth and groaning for having to shuffle our routines to accommodate that many businesses close their doors on national holidays.
But when it comes to doing business in China, Chinese holidays can be a lot more frustrating than just a day or two of inconvenience. These are holidays that can downright sink your business if you overlook these important dates. Chinese holidays are nothing like North American holidays. They are substantial in length and can close factory doors for several weeks, not just days.
This can cause huge challenges for unprepared businesses when Chinese holidays impact manufacturing schedules, timelines, budgets, and the quality of products.
While the Chinese are celebrating, you can be left sobbing if you aren’t prepared in advance for these lengthy and disruptive halts in the flow of production. Therefore, as an importer, it's vital to your success to mark these dates on your calendar and do your best to avoid production immediately before and after a national holiday.
That’s not always possible, but it’s a good goal to have so you can avoid dealing with the potential of receiving lower-quality goods or shipping delays caused by a pre-holiday or post-holiday rush.
It’s one of the first things we educate our clients on as a China sourcing company.
I've heard too many horror stories from inexperienced importers who have had to learn the hard way. Every year businesses get burned by not knowing the Chinese holiday schedules in advance and instead of selling their products and celebrating their profits, their unfinished or finished products sit idle on the factory floors.
It’s a costly oversight many businesses make when importing products from China.
So let me help educate you so you don't become one of these casualties.
Here is a summary of the China national holidays that you will need to highlight on your calendar:
One of the most well-known holidays in China that will affect importers doing business in China is the Chinese New Year. This is also known as Spring Festival or CNY. This holiday is the most important and widely celebrated in China and usually falls between January and February, depending on the lunar calendar.
During this time, many workers travel back to their hometowns to gather with their families, exchange gifts and celebrate the start of the new year, which results in factories and businesses across China being shut down for extended periods.
Factories will be extremely busy in the months leading up to the Chinese New Year holiday and afterward playing catch up. Many factories will shut down for 2-3 weeks or even longer during this time, so communicating with the factory or factories you’re working with to get their specific holiday schedule is imperative.
Another Chinese holiday that can impact manufacturing is the Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb Sweeping Day. This holiday lands on the first day of the fifth solar term of the Chinese calendar. In the Gregorian calendar, it falls on either the 4, 5, or 6th of April each year.
During this time, many people in China visit and pay respects to their ancestors at gravesites, which can lead to reduced workforce availability at factories and reduced productivity as factory workers take time off to participate in these traditions.
China Labor Day, also known as May Day or International Worker's Day, is a Chinese public holiday celebrated annually on May 1 in China. It is a day set aside to honour and recognize the contributions of workers and laborers. The holiday is marked by various activities across China, such as parades, festivals, and concerts.
Although China Labor Day may not be as well known or widely celebrated as Chinese New Year or Golden Week, it is still an important public holiday that importers need to be aware of, as it can have a significant impact on manufacturing and supply chains.
The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as the Duanwu Festival, is another important traditional Chinese holiday that can impact manufacturing. It falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, which means that it usually falls in June on the Gregorian calendar.
This holiday is marked by traditional dragon boat races and the consumption of zongzi, a type of rice dumpling. During this time many factories throughout China shut down or operate at reduced capacity due to factory workers taking time off and it being another important public holiday in China.
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival is another Chinese holiday that importers need to be aware of. It’s held on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, usually in September or early October, and is a time for families to gather and enjoy mooncakes, a traditional food while admiring the full moon.
As the festival approaches, Chinese grocery stores, bakeries, and other retail outlets display an abundance of mooncakes for sale. These traditional pastries are a staple of the holiday and are a popular gift among friends, family, and business associates to show goodwill and friendship.
Here’s a valuable hint: If you want to show appreciation and strengthen your relationship with your Chinese suppliers, freight forwarders, or other China business partners, arrange to have a mooncake sent to them for the Mid-Autumn Festival as a gesture.
National Day Holiday, also known as Golden Week is another Chinese public holiday that your suppliers are likely to close their factories down for. It’s a week-long public holiday held annually during the first week of October that was established in the 1990s to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
The "National Day Holiday," more widely known as "Golden Week," is a holiday that is popular for its economic boost caused by the high volume of Chinese people who take vacations to see their families or travel abroad during this week.
Overall, National Golden Week is a significant holiday that importers need to be aware of in China that lasts for 7 days. It’s the second longest holiday that factories in Mainland China will usually close down for next to Chinese New Year.
When you do business in another country you need to be familiar with the customs, culture, and holiday schedules that impact your importing abilities and schedules. One simple oversight can be a costly mistake that can result in huge misfortune.
China is a key player in the production of the entire world's goods. By educating yourself on the ebb and flow of their cultural celebrations and holidays that can impede manufacturing, you can avoid costly delays, quality issues, lost revenue, additional expenses, and supply chain headaches.
China's national holiday schedule for 2023 is below. You can also print off, bookmark and add these dates to your calendar.
Now that you know the impact that Chinese holidays can pose on your business you can proactively plan ahead, keep your business out of the red and minimize any disruptions to your business operations.