The CEOs of large US retail companies including Walmart, online marketplace Etsy, and other retailers recently attended a White House roundtable. The meeting explored the outlook for the holiday shopping season and the steps required to meet consumer demands. It was organised by President Biden, concerned to overcome the supply chain challenges that have plagued parts of the country. The roundtable also included the director of the National Economic Council and the director of the Office of Public Engagement.
The meeting highlighted steps companies have taken to overcome supply chain bottlenecks. It also reviewed the progress taking place at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, as a result of the work of the Biden-Harris Administration.
Strength of the US supply chain
The CEOs thanked President Biden for his focus on supply chain bottlenecks. In addition to the partnership, he established with the private sector to tackle these disruptions.
The business leaders noted the strength of their supply chains, especially for seasonal items. They highlighted ways they had planned, diversified their supplier base, and sourced new products. Furthermore, retailers partnered closely with suppliers to be ready to meet the seasonal demand. The result of this planning is evident in their high inventory levels and high on-time delivery rates.
Participants noted that the backlog at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has decreased. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon highlighted a 51% improvement in his company’s throughput at the ports. He suggested this was largely due to the work of the Biden-Harris Port Envoy.
In addition to discussing the holiday shopping season, the President also noted the progress made at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. These ports have seen an over 40% drop in the number of long dwelling containers. An important sign that velocity and fluidity are coming back.
What the companies are saying
According to Josh Silverman – Etsy CEO “Today, I represent Etsy’s community of more than five million sellers. We discussed the strength of small businesses at the White House. With other business and retail leaders, I am meeting President Joe Biden to help address the nation’s supply chain crisis. I plan to remind the administration that it’s critical to consider actions that promote an environment where small businesses can thrive.”
The CEO of Samsung North America also attended the roundtable. KS Choi says, “The consumer demand for tech products continues to be unprecedented. Samsung is committed to ensuring US consumers have the appliances and electronics they want and need. We applaud President Biden for taking action to drive the public/private collaborations that are helping solve supply chain challenges. Challenges, that otherwise could impact the holiday season. We have ramped up our capacity and significantly reduced our backlog at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. This helps ensure we will deliver on our consumers’ holiday purchases.”
Enterprise Times: What this means for business?
Black Friday sales in the US were up 30% compared to last year. Retailers are in the midst of a retail boom with retail sales up double digits every month in 2021. This compares to the previous year. In October retail sales were up 15% compared to last year. So, it’s impressive that the US president is engaged to ensure that Christmas is delivered to households across the country. The supply chain issue is a particular challenge on the ports of the east and west coasts. As a result, many retailers started on Black Friday deals as early as October. Furthermore, Americans did their holiday shopping earlier than usual, spreading out the impact of holiday season shopping.
The UK has also suffered major problems to its supply chain, the situation has been further exasperated by Brexit. While there have been meetings and discussion within the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. I don’t remember any major roundtable discussions similar to the US. Perhaps this explains why the problem persisted longer in the UK. Some analysts will argue that it still persists in the UK.