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The Chinese New Year is just on the doorstep. There is one important question we have been getting recently, and especially from those clients who are newer to China. What to expect from my supplier and products when the Chinese New Year is approaching?

The celebrations of the year of the Sheep/ Goat officially start February 18th and during the celebrations, it will be hard to find a single worker in a factory. This celebration is not like a Western holiday where we celebrate and go back to work immediately after. Chinese New Year is celebrated for several weeks. For example, parts of Shenzhen convert into ghost towns. Before and after the golden week, production issues galore: defect rates soar, deadlines slip by weeks and suppliers become unresponsive.

chinese new year migration
Chinese New Year Migration

Why are there production issues before CNY?

Everyone tries to finish their work as quickly as possible, and cutting corners becomes common practice and the main reasons for production issues before CNY. Most factories are shut down for a couple of weeks, as most employees cross the country to return home to see family. The weeks preceding and following the celebration are also often quite sluggish. Many of the best workers and managers as a reward are allowed to leave early for the holiday, leading to even more potential headaches. This means that you may be cut off from contact with your factory for even a month! Alternatively, some factories may quickly push the products out of the factory before the holiday, giving them even less time and attention than average. Overtime and working on weekends are ubiquitous.

Man Making Lanterns
Man Making Lanterns in a Lantern Factor

When is the hot phase around CNY?

The hot phase of production usually starts in January. Factories are working at 100% of their capacity or higher. Ships that leave the harbor before February 18th are safe however the space in those ships are usually booked well in advance. Anything else may be stuck in China for one or several weeks.

It is important to make sure that any loose ends are tied up in the next month in order to ensure that projects are finished and products are not stranded. If your factory is set to ship before the holiday, take extra care in checking these products for defects as chances are they may have been rushed a bit. If production does not wrap up by then, it is best to have realistic expectations of your factory as, if they are even running at all, they will be running severely under-staffed.

How to prevent for quality issues before CNY?

  1. Anticipate production issues before CNY by working out a doable production schedule with the suppliers, giving some margin for delays. Penalty clauses may be helpful but ensure to focus on specifications and quality expectations, too.
  2. Double check on the production schedule by performing inspections during production. This is very important to keep the pressure up, both for quality and delivery date.
  3. Preshipment inspections are always a must. Since cutting corners is very frequent in the hot period before CNY, increasing the sample size is advisable.
  Read more about the Chinese New Year from our Sourcing blog here . Remember to congratulate your suppliers: Gong Xi Fa Cai (in Mandarin) or Kong Hei Fat Choi (in Cantonese)!