East Asian tech firms, and their customers worldwide, are battening down the hatches for the traditional lunar new year holiday, which begins this weekend.
Global output of products like notebooks, desktop computers, digital cameras, digital audio players and flat screen TVs will grind to a near halt during the break.
Factories, shops and offices across the region will be closed next week, and city streets eerily quiet as families return home to celebrate the holiday, which is similar in its importance to Christmas in the West.
The week-long holiday is often referred to as Chinese new year because its date, which varies between January and February, is determined from a traditional Chinese lunar calendar.
Countries with Chinese cultural roots, including Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong, will effectively cease economic activities for the week. A holiday is also observed in Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Of the major economies in the region, only Japan's is relatively unaffected, but even Japanese companies now outsource much of their manufacturing to partners in China and Taiwan.
Companies have been making preparations for weeks. "In the run up to new year our sales department tries to get orders in well ahead so our foreign customers have enough product to last through the holiday," explained Tomasz Swatowski, assistant manager at Taiwanese computer hardware manufacturer Albatron.
Like its competitors, Albatron will close its office in Taipei and factories in China during the holiday.
Foreign customers will also have to be prepared for less support from head offices. "Our international offices will still be open, so they can handle some requests, but they can't solve all technical issues," said Swatowski.
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