What do one billion Chinese people have in common first week of October each year? The answer is celebration, celebration, and celebration! Golden Week is coming up with parades, fireworks, and festivities. But this large-scale holiday also means if you are shipping to or from China, it is time to start preparing. In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about Golden Week and how to prepare your shipments.
What is Golden Week?
First of all, let us sort out what Golden Week is. Golden Week is a Chinese holiday. It is kicked off by the National Day on October 1 with celebrations going on for seven days straight. On the National Day, festive activities are held across the nation to commemorate the founding of the People’s Republic of China. This is the second-longest public holiday in China and many Chinese people take the opportunity to travel around the country to visit friends and family and celebrate together.
How does Golden Week affect the shipping industry?
During Golden Week, Chinese factories will be closed. Many companies are rushing to finish production in time for pre-sailings. This puts strains on capacity and prices go up for ocean, air, and road freight. Carriers quickly become overbooked and the risk of cargo getting rolled increases. Containers don’t make their vessels and carriers have to reschedule shipments and place the containers on ships with later departure times, leading to delays.
After Golden Week there is usually a drastic slowdown in demand. This leads to increased blank sailings affecting the eastbound market for a few months with higher freight rates.
How to prepare shipments for Golden Week?
Now to the real question. How should you as a shipper prepare for Golden Week to make sure your goods arrive safely on time? There are a few things you can do. Here are my 5 top tips.
- Contact your freight forwarder to plan ahead
First of all, contact your freight forwarder and let them know your needs and wishes. Together, you can come up with a plan for how to handle your goods in the best possible way with Golden Week in mind. Perhaps, you have goods that are more urgent than others? By sharing the prognoses of production speed and goods volumes, it is easier to adjust shipping service and transport mode prior to shipment.
- Book your shipments prior to Golden Week
Make sure to book your shipments prior to Golden Week. This way, you increase the chance of your goods arriving on time. If you are shipping by air, book your shipments at least two weeks in advance. For ocean freight, book one month in advance to be on the safe side.
- Ship your goods as FCL instead of LCL
During Golden Week, hundreds of thousands of workers are away for celebration, and this will affect operations. While most ports stay open, they operate with a minimum of staff which slows down operations. If your cargo is urgent, it may be a good idea to ship your goods as FCL (Full Container Load) instead of LCL (Less Container Load) as these shipments require less handling such as loading and unloading during their shipping journey.
- Think twice before choosing transport mode
On the other hand, the fastest way is not necessarily the best way! Prior to Golden Week, transport services with the shortest transit times are quickly becoming over-booked. The risk is your cargo will get rolled. Therefore, think twice before choosing transport mode. For example, if your cargo is not super urgent, you may benefit greatly from using a multimodal service that combines different modes of transport.
- Book PTL to avoid chassis split and trucking wait fees
During Golden Week, some ports experience chassis shortages. In this case, the trucking company may assess a chassis split fee to cover the costs of bringing the chassis to the port. To avoid this and extra trucking wait fees, consider booking PTL (Partial Truck Load) as there is usually no need to stop at port terminals along the way with this service.
Sea News, September 11