Biden Speaks With Retail Execs, Announces New 'Action Plan' to Tackle Supply Chain Issues
Port authorities will now be allowed to redirect cost savings from existing federally funded projects to help address bottlenecks in the supply chain as holiday shopping ramps up, the White House announced Tuesday. The change — part of the White House's "action plan" — comes as President Biden spoke with chief executives at Walmart, UPS, FedEx, and Target about the ongoing supply chain disruptions, according to Bloomberg, which first reported on the phone conference.
“During the conversations, President Biden received updates from these private sector leaders on the efforts they’re taking to speed up throughput in our entire goods movement supply chain and discussed how shelves will be well-stocked this holiday season thanks to the tireless efforts of their companies, as well as the ports and workers stretching from longshoremen to truck drivers, rail and warehouse workers, store clerks, and everyone in between,” a White House official told The Hill.
A month ago, those same retailers announced they would expand working hours to move more cargo off docks as part of a broader effort with the White House, with Walmart saying it would commit to increasing nighttime hours by as much as 50 percent.
Biden said in a press release the White House is also allowing the Georgia Port Authority to reallocate more than $8 million to convert existing inland facilities into five pop-up container yards in Georgia and North Carolina. The president also used the opportunity to highlight his newly passed $3 trillion infrastructure bill, which includes $17 billion to improve infrastructure at coastal ports, inland ports and waterways, and land ports of entry along the border.
Total Retail's Take: Retailers have been plagued with supply chain issues for months, with seemingly no end in sight. Freighters are waiting to get into ports; containers full of products are sitting on the docks; ports have been closed or severely understaffed; shipping containers are hard to find, resulting in skyrocketing freight costs; and truck drivers are leaving the job in droves. Further down the supply chain, consumers are seeing the effects of this disruption in the form of out-of-stock messages and empty store shelves.
While the recent actions taken by the White House may not have an immediate effect on today's supply chain issues, they are important first steps in reducing future supply chain issues. As for this holiday season, retailers are likely to see supply chain challenges persist, frustrating customers and businesses alike.