Logistics Trends & Events

Chinese Golden Week 2021: Plan ahead and book early to avoid delays this year

Golden Week is a national holiday in China in October. The knock-on impact of Golden Week is that logistics-related business slows down. Additional delays make this Golden Week extremely challenging.

Anna-Sophia Metzel, Curtis Doyle, 26 July 2021

Every year from the 1st – 7th October, China bursts into life as the country celebrates its National Day with a week of cultural events, concerts, sports and fireworks – all kicked off by a national flag-raising ceremony in Tiananmen Square.

Most people in China have Golden Week off, making it one of the busiest weeks for tourism in the country as people use the time to take trips with families and friends. Visiting China during Golden Week requires plenty of planning. Looking at the world of logistics, the same can be said of planning your cargo shipments in and out of the country as China is one of the world's largest and most influential economies. Not only does its population of over one billion people provide a huge and growing market for products; it is also the world's largest exporter, and countless businesses rely on its ports as gateways to the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Golden Week can affect your whole supply chain, especially when shipping to or from China and later on a global level.

How does Golden Week impact your supply chain?

Before Golden Week, importers rush to finish production in factories and get their goods ready to be shipped out of China before the event starts. This is often referred to as the pre-Golden week rush.

Few ships are leaving from China in the week itself as most port and terminal staff is on holiday. And if you have suppliers in the country, they'll likely be low-staffed or their factories are completely closed – slowing down the country's productivity for a week. By the time Golden Week comes around, getting cargo in or out of the country becomes almost impossible – and if it isn't impossible, it's very costly. The inter-connected nature of supply chains means that the ripples of the slowdown around Golden Week can be felt in other nations and other ports too.

But that's not all: the disruptions continue further after Golden Week. With container shortages due to the pre-Golden Week rush, goods arrive later than usual at the factories. That being said, Chinese Golden Week can have a huge impact on your supply chain for about a month. However, given the current ripple effects and congestions impacting logistics all around the world, the effect can be felt much longer. That means: this year's Golden Week could be one of the most challenging yet.

Why is this year's Golden Week different?

If you work in logistics in any way, you'll have felt the turbulence and pressures that the industry is facing this year. A perfect storm of a global pandemic, one-off incidents and bottleneck after bottleneck has left a shipping situation where delays are increasing, vessel capacity is tight, and equipment shortages are common.

In the Asia-Pacific, as we've detailed in recent updates, this pressure is being felt more strongly than anywhere else. Disruptions at some of its major ports continue as well as the overall demand to import and export to/from one of the biggest markets in the world is booming. Add Golden Week into the mix, which on its own would be a peak period in the industry, and you can see why this year could be particularly challenging for logistics.

“The current disruptions in logistics has made the uncertainty in terms of supply vs demand on both ocean freight as well as inland transportation even bigger. In addition, we don't foresee that the equipment situation, especially in South China, will be significantly improving during the upcoming months. We highly suggest customers finalise their shipments within the next 3-4 weeks so that we can plan ocean freight and inland transportation capacity before and after Golden Week.”

Lisa Ding, Head of Greater China, Twill

Don't worry – Twill is here to help

Reading this article so far, you'd be forgiven for feeling a bit doom and gloom! Ahead of Golden Week, as this busy and congested period continues and looks set to stay until Christmas – getting your logistics organised now could give you the edge over competitors and ensure you keep your customers and suppliers happy. So, while the difficulty of the situation, and the importance of being prepared, can't be understated – we have a few advices for you in these challenging times:

  1. Think beyond logistics: Talk to your suppliers to make sure they are getting your goods manufactured earlier than normally planned. So you can avoid further delays within your supply chain.

  2. Shift your geographical focus: The need for inland transportation forecast applies to both exports and imports. Lisa Ding outlines: "For overseas buyers who source from pan China locations, please consider shifting your focus from South China to East and North China, where we have more empty containers for export."

  3. Book early: We recommend you strongly get your bookings in as soon as possible this year if you want to get your goods delivered ahead of Chinese Golden Week. At Twill, we're here to keep your logistics moving – ensuring your cargo gets where it needs to. When booking with us, you can use several benefits to get your supply chain ready for Golden Week, such as our loading priority, customer support, and an easy booking process via our platform.

  4. Think ahead: If you want your goods to arrive after Chinese Golden Week, book your cargo’s delivery for the second week in October – once Golden Week is over.

  5. Stay up to date: To get more logistics information and guidance like this, head over to our knowledge hub and check our latest logistics information.

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