Leaders in the retail industry are exhorting President Biden to show “strong leadership” in helping American supply chains return to normalcy.
Matthew Shay — President and CEO of the National Retail Federation — wrote a letter to President Biden, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, and other White House officials that outlines challenges presently facing business leaders.
Shay noted that the recession has placed bottlenecks on ports and shipping processes — a reality that has affected over 97% of American retailers:
Our nation’s supply chains are stressed because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, and they continue to struggle through our economic recovery. We would like an opportunity to discuss the impact these issues are having on the nation’s retailers, our workers and our customers, as well as potential solutions to address current and future disruptions.
The letter adds that American business leaders are experiencing a host of other obstacles. Roughly 85% of executives report inventory shortages; meanwhile, 70% say that they have added up to three weeks onto their supply chains.
As a result of rising production costs, three-quarters of businesses are raising prices for their consumers.
Shay called upon President Biden to show “strong leadership” in resolving supply chain issues:
We continue to work with key executives at the ports and with our transportation providers. We need strong leadership from the administration to galvanize attention to the current situation as well as work to resolve long-standing issues that limit safe and efficient port operations. As the administration undergoes supply chain reviews for critical sectors, including transportation, addressing the current state of our nation’s ports and freight movement needs to be a critical component of the strategy. As trade continues to grow, we need to make sure we have truly 21st century ports and freight movement. This certainly is central to the administration’s Build Back Better approach.
The National Retail Federation letter was written as federal lawmakers continue to debate President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, which proposes over $2 trillion in infrastructure spending. Congressional Republicans note that much of the President’s bill is devoted to education and welfare programs rather than roads, bridges, and ports.
“This is our chance to expand our idea of what infrastructure means,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).