China Manufacturing Holidays and Production Delays

The Chinese New Year of 2018 starts on February 15th, and lasts until February 21st. While this is a major event that is still largely unknown outside of Asia, importers are sometimes painfully… aware of this season. They certainly have good reasons. The Chinese New Year shuts down every single production facility in the entire country, for varying time frames. In the worst case, and rather likely, scenario – the Chinese New Year can result in severe delays.

Although the official dates of the Chinese National holidays are helpful to understand, it is equally important to know the range of dates around the holiday that are impacted. It is difficult to plan supply chains with inconsistent schedules.

The unofficial dates are what allow the factory workers to visit relatives they may not have seen since the previous year’s holiday. The two holidays with the most days off are the Chinese New Year (mid-February) and the Chinese National Holiday (early October). Both are officially celebrated for a full week. Factory workers that are employed in big metropolitan areas tend to follow the official dates more closely since their relatives are closer geographically, or easier to get to. But, many factories close two weeks prior to the holiday and may not open with a full staff until two weeks after the holiday.

It is also helpful to look at it this way: if a factory closes two weeks before Chinese New Year, and workers do not fully return until two weeks after, that factory will not only have no production during that time, but it will also take a few days after the employees return to get things back up to speed.  Then if you look deeper in to that factory’s material supplier, they will also be delayed, resulting in another week. Finally, the large amounts of containers that did not make it out before the holiday will take time to be processed. Ultimately, it is wise to forward plan for 4-8 weeks of delays during these times of the year. But why let that be a deterrent from all the positive aspects of working with Chinese manufacturers?

As a company who has been working closely with a lot of Chinese Manufacturers, one of our suggestions is better planning. By having a better understanding about the Chinese holidays and non-working days, U.S. manufacturers should be able to plan their production. Ensure that production starts in late December, at latest. That assumes in average production time is around 30 to 40 days. If it takes more than 40 days, we start counting backwards and look to have a “buffer stock” in our warehouse. Try to have a minimum 2 weeks’ worth of “buffer stock” between the end date of the production, and the date they close. We also attached a Chinese calendar to help.

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New Year’s Day 2018:  Jan 1st. No makeup days.

Spring Festival/Chinese New Year: Feb 15th to 21st, makeup days on Feb 11th and 24th

Qing Ming Festival: 5 Apr to 7 Apr, makeup day on Apr 8th.

May Labor Day: Apr 29th to May 1st, makeup day on May 28th.

Dragon Boat Festival: Jun 16th – 18th, no makeup day.

Mid-Autumn Festival: Sep 22nd – 24th, makeup days on Sept 29th – 30th.

October National Day:  Oct 1st – 7th, no makeup day.