Is Chinese New Year that big of a deal to USA retailers?
I wish I had a dollar for every customer that asked me that question. Most Americans can’t begin to understand how big of a deal that the Chinese New Year is to Asia. It’s just a holiday right? Not at all, the whole country shuts down for about 2-3 weeks. The countries and territories that celebrate along with China include Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam (TET).
· Families pour out money for gifts, decorations and food.
· Completely clean the house to get rid of any bad luck from the previous year.
· Decorations fill the houses, windows and doors with popular sayings such as wealth, healthy, happy.
· Firecrackers will light up the skies.
· Children receive money in red paper envelopes wishing them wealth and a happy new year.
· Niangao, the New Year cake that is like a pudding.
The official holiday lasts for 15 days, but it can take up to 3 weeks for a factory to get started back into production. One of the main issues for factories is that their workers are from towns that are very far away from the factory. They will travel by bus, motorbike or anything they can find to get them to their hometown to celebrate with their family. Even though the factory owner may tell the workers to come back on a certain day, they may come back days later, killing production times. It’s not easy for factory owners to find workers and so they have to let this slide to get their skilled workers back to work.
As an importer, we have to warn our customers of the impending black hole in the universe called “Chinese New Year”. It’s just a time that you don’t want to waiting on orders to complete or start. We try and get all of our orders in the factories in time to be finished a few weeks BEFORE CNY, so that we don’t run into any problems. If the customer wants their product right after CNY it will almost always be late. Key planning is the key for your importer to walk you through before the worst-case scenario.