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06/15/2021

NRF to Biden: Please fix the supply chain

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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The National Retail Federation (NRF) is formally asking the Biden administration to address U.S. port congestion challenges.

In a letter delivered to the White House, the NRF asked to meet with President Biden and other top administration officials regarding the challenges the industry trade association says retailers are facing from continued supply chain disruptions that are leading to congestion at U.S. ports.

“The supply chain disruption issues, especially the congestion affecting our key maritime ports, are causing significant challenges for America’s retailers,” says the letter, which is addressed from NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “The congestion issues have not only added days and weeks to our supply chains, but have led to inventory shortages impacting our ability to serve our customers. In addition, these delays have added significant transportation and warehousing costs for retailers.”

The NRF recently revised its annual sales forecast upward to predict that 2021 retail sales will grow between 10.5% and 13% to more than $4.44 trillion in 2021 as economic recovery accelerates. In addition, retail cargo imports set a record in April. 

However, in a recent survey of NRF member companies on the congestion situation, over 97% of retailers surveyed said they have been impacted by port and shipping delays. In addition, 70% of respondents say they have had to add two to three weeks to their supply chains, with 85% experiencing inventory shortages as a result of disruptions. The most common challenges respondents mentioned were U.S. port congestion, lack of carrier capacity, and lack of available containers overseas.

“In many instances retailers will absorb these costs and not pass them along to consumers, Shay said in the letter. “However, many smaller retailers may have no choice but to pass along these costs, especially as they face other challenges with reopening their businesses.”