China Port

ICAT Blog: Article Preparing Your Shipments for Golden Week

September 15, 2023

Golden Week is quickly approaching, which means it’s time to plan ahead if your company is exporting or importing from the world’s largest source of manufactured goods. We’ll review how this week-long Chinese holiday affects the shipping industry and some steps you can take to ensure your freight isn’t delayed.

First, what is Golden Week?

Golden Week is the second-longest public holiday in China (behind the Chinese New Year). It begins on October 1st with China’s National Day, commemorating the found of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949, with celebrations continuing for 7 days straight.

How does Golden Week impact the shipping industry?

For the global logistics industry, these seven days of festivities trigger a notoriously disruptive period for those who are importing and exporting during the peak shipping season. To make matters even worse, the holiday actually impacts manufacturing, imports, exports, and trade for 14 days (or even more), as people travel back to work and things get back up and running.

During Golden Week, Chinese factories close and companies are rushing to finalize production in time for pre-sailings. This puts an inevitable strain on capacity and causes freight prices to skyrocket. In turn, this creates a ripple effect with carriers becoming overbooked, cargo getting rolled, containers not making it in time for their vessel’s departure, and vendors having to reschedule shipments completely, leading to potentially significant delays.

Yikes, that sounds bad! What can I do to prepare for Golden Week?

Although it’s not always avoidable (because let’s face it…last-minute things do pop up), there are some steps you can take to avoid potential problems with your shipments during this time.

1. Communicate with your freight forwarder.

Being upfront and transparent regarding your needs ahead of time with your freight forwarder is imperative to your success. By keeping your freight forwarder in-the-know, you can work together to create a plan on how to best handle your goods in the most effective way prior to, during, and after Golden Week.

Experienced freight forwarders will know how to navigate your freight during these busy and unpredictable times and can work with overseas agents to provide the best options for your logistics needs.

If you don’t have a freight forwarder in place, this is one of those instances where having one could make all the difference.

2. Book your shipments ahead of time.

Prioritize what you need shipped and then work with your freight forwarder to get your shipments booked early. This will increase the chances of your goods arriving on time. If you need to ship by air, book your shipments at least two weeks in advance. If you are moving your freight via ocean, book one month in advance.

3. Ship FCL instead of LCL.

During Golden Week, thousands of port workers are away for the holiday, greatly affecting operations. While most ports remain open for business, they operate with a skeleton crew, so things move much slower.

If you plan on shipping your freight by ocean and your cargo is urgent, it can be beneficial to ship your goods as FCL (Full Container Load) instead of LCL (Less-than Container Load), as these shipments require less handling during the trek to its destination.

4. Choose your transport mode wisely.

“Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.”

This saying can quickly become a reality, especially if you believe moving your freight the fastest way will produce the best outcome. This is not always the case.

Prior to Golden Week, transport modes with the shortest transit times quickly become overbooked, leading to the possibility of your cargo getting rolled. Think twice before choosing a transport mode. If your cargo isn’t super urgent, you could benefit from using a multimodal solution that combines different modes of transportation instead.