U.S. retailers ask Biden to address port congestion

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

The National Retail Federation has requested to meet with President Biden and other top U.S. administration officials to discuss the challenges retailers face from congestion at U.S. ports.

The letter from NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay states, “The supply chain disruption issues, especially the congestion affecting our key maritime ports, are causing significant challenges for America’s retailers. 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.”

Retailers depend on U.S. ports and other transportation infrastructure to deliver billions of dollars’ worth of goods and products to consumers every day. Last week, NRF revised its annual retail sales forecast to grow between 10.5% and 13.5% to more than US$4.44 trillion in 2021 as the economic recovery accelerates.

Although consumer demand continues to grow, evidenced by imports during the busiest April on record at the largest U.S. retail container ports, the supply chain challenges remain significant. In a recent survey of NRF member companies on the congestion situation, over 97% of retailers surveyed say they have been impacted by port and shipping delays, and 70% of respondents say they have had to add two to three weeks to their supply chains.

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

“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,” the letter concluded.