Today is Sunday, October 7, and is the last day of the Chinese National Day holiday. Every October 1st China celebrates the anniversary of the formation of the People’s Republic of China. This year marks the 69th anniversary of that event. National Day is one of the two long holidays in China and we had the entire week off. The other one is Chinese New Year or Spring Festival which usually takes place in January/February of each year (depending on the Lunar calendar).
Even though we had the whole week off, the holiday is actually only three days long, but as is customary in China, often one or two days the weekend before or after a holiday are designated work days and are traded for days during the week to have a longer contiguous holiday. For National Day this year, we worked the Saturday and Sunday prior to October 1st. When I talk to friends back home, they always say it seems like we have a lot of holidays here, but in reality, since we substitute some weekend days, the total number of holidays is about the same as the US.
Why do I bring this up? Well, it’s also about this time of year and especially during Spring Festival that I get panicked calls or read from a lot of online sellers in the US who are unable to reach their supplier. Often it’s associated with just making a payment for a big order and the lack of communication is sometimes translated in their minds into being ripped off. It’s a fair reaction. Or, they think perhaps the supplier is holding back bad news about their production run and are avoiding the online seller. So, it’s important to know your holidays in China so you don’t misinterpret the situation.
One other thing worth mentioning is that during Spring Festival, even though the official holiday is about a week, many people go back to their hometowns to be with their families and often stay for a few weeks. This is especially true of factory workers since many of them leave their families in the hometown in search of work and are away from their families for extended periods. It is not at all unusual to not be able to contact a supplier during this time. Even if you can get in touch with your contact at the factory or trading company, quite often the production line has been shut down for an extended period or, at the very least, working on a limited production schedule.
One of the advantages we have being here in China is not only being aware of the holidays and their potential effect on buying or making products in China, but really understanding the social and economic ramifications of the time off so that we can plan ahead. The best way to deal with it is to; 1) be aware of the official holiday schedule, 2) communicate with your supplier to see how an upcoming holiday might affect your deliveries, and 3) have a contingency plan in place in case there are delays in production that are further exacerbated by holidays (both official and traditional). Anticipating problems before they become critical is the key to success in any project. It’s especially true when you’re on the other side of the world, with a 12- to 15-hour time difference, and you don’t speak Chinese.
Of course, your best bet is to let us handle it for you. We’re happy to help you with your planning and communication with the factories and suppliers to make sure your products arrive on time, in the condition that you expect, and you don’t run out of saleable inventory. Understanding some of these nuances is what makes the difference between success and failure sourcing products in China. Contact us today and let us know how we can help!