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Holidays that wreak havoc for shippers

Holidays are great: people are happy, they like to buy things for their loved ones, and that is good for businesses. Holidays are usually an opportunity for business growth, but if the shipping necessary to fulfill holiday inventory is not properly planned, the season can become a nightmare instead of a profit paradise. Everyone wants to have the products on the shelves right before an important date in order to take advantage of every sales opportunity. But shipping too close to a holiday can be a big risk.

The accumulation of imports during holidays make the shipping processes slower, since freight forwarders and 3PL (Third Party Logistics) are stacked with shipments and can only clear a few at a time. It’s not uncommon to hear that companies will prioritize the shipments, meaning the ones that pay better rates will be released first. In the end, what every importing company must to do ensure their shipments are not affected by a dreaded holiday delay is to plan and import ahead of time.

Below, we give you a list of the most important festivities you should look into when planning your shipments:


Christmas season is THE busiest time of the year for most companies. Customers start making their Christmas shopping the 1st or 2nd week of December, and many companies are completing the import of their products also in the first days of the month. If possible, plan your shipments to arrive by November and search for storage options that are cost-friendly for a few weeks until you sell your Christmas inventory – it’s better to pay for early inventory storage than to be faced with the cost of not selling your products because your shipment didn’t it make on time.

Don’t forget that while most business are open and providing services through at least December 23rd, trucking companies can be an exception. Since truck drivers need to start driving home for Christmas, some decide to close operations or to work with a skeleton crew.  This is of extreme importance when you leave your shipping till the last moment and you need delivery of your products the day before Christmas Eve.

You may want to book your shipments for arrival even before November. This is because November is home to Thanksgiving, the pitfalls of which we have explained below.

Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Thanksgiving is a big holiday, but sales for this day don’t compare to the sales during Black Friday. You have to look at them as one big holiday to plan your shipments. The newly spawned Cyber Monday has given rise to another November date to keep in mind. Cyber Monday was created by marketing companies for online shopping on the Monday after Thanksgiving. According to a research by Bizrate and Shop.org, 77% of the online retailers said that they experienced increases in sales during Cyber Monday.

Freight forwarders do not seem to run into many delays before the 3rd week of November, therefore shipping at least this early is a good plan.

Chinese New Year

This is the most important holiday in China, the one for which companies and factories close for two, three, or even four weeks. You can read more about the details of this holiday and how to avoid shipping problems in our article: 6 Tips on International Shipping around Chinese New Year

Small holidays related to your business

There are other holidays that can affect shipping on local ways. For example, Mardi Grass in New Orleans keeps the local retailers busy with preparations for the day, which could imply that the last parts of shipping – customs clearance and truck delivery- could suffer delays within New Orleans. Make a review of all the local festivities and holidays that involve retail sales and prepare your shipments in advance.  A few holidays that can affect shipping are: Halloween, Mother’s Day, local carnivals, Independence Day, Easter, and others.

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