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President Biden Meets With Retailers About Holiday Shopping

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
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President Biden met with leading retail executives from Walmart, Kroger, Best Buy, CVS Health and more on November 29th to discuss their outlook for the holiday shopping season, and the steps companies large and small have taken to meet consumer demands.

[See also: Cyber Monday Sales On Track For Flat Year]

Along with the director of the National Economic Council, Brian Deese and Cedric Richmond, director of Office of Public Engagement, the roundtable also highlighted steps companies have taken to overcome supply chain bottlenecks and the progress they are seeing at the Ports of LA and Long Beach.

During the meeting, the business leaders noted the strength of their supply chains, especially for seasonal items, and highlighted ways they had planned ahead, diversified their supplier base, sourced new products, and partnered closely with suppliers to be ready to meet the seasonal demand. 

Participants noted that the backlog at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has decreased, and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon highlighted a 51% improvement in his company’s throughput at the ports due to the work of the Biden-Harris Port Envoy.

See more: Walmart, Target, Home Depot to Work Off-Peak to Ease Supply Chain Holdup Ahead of Holidays]

"While we’re all concerned about the supply chain, we have more inventory than we did a year ago and have the inventory that we need to be able to support the business," McMillon said during the meeting. "And we are seeing progress.  The port and transit delays are improving.  As you and I discussed not long ago, about two thirds of what we sell in the United States is made or grown here.  That other third has a meaningful portion coming from Canada and Mexico, which is helpful. 

"For the part that comes outside of North America, the port issue has been a big issue.  But we’ve really seen a lot of improvement.

"Because of what you all did to help with overnight hours and because of the team’s work to reroute to other ports, to extend our lead times, and have other creative solutions, we’ve seen an increase in throughput over the last four weeks of about 26% nationally in terms of getting containers through ports. 

"And in the Southern California ports in particular, where you’ve been really focused, we’ve seen a 51% improvement in that flow through."

Additional grocery retailers who attended included Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen and Meg Ham, Food Lion president.

“We remain focused on providing a full, fresh and friendly experience for our customers,” McMullen said in a statement, “by attracting and retaining workers with Kroger’s opportunity culture, providing affordable Our Brands products, partnering with suppliers to plan for increased demand and to increase our safety stock on more than 70 of our most critical categories, leveraging our data insights to identify complementary/substitute items to fill customers’ needs where suppliers can’t meet demands, and diversifying ports of entry we schedule through.”

“The pandemic transformed almost every aspect of our business – from the way customers shop for groceries to how food is produced and transported to our shelves,” said Ham in a statement. “While there have been targeted supply chain issues, the food supply chain remains robust and there is ample product available for customers on our shelves. We continue to work with our diverse and broad network of suppliers, source products from new partners and engage directly with additional local vendors. On a daily basis, we are working with our supply chain partners, ADUSA Supply Chain, to get product to our stores to help meet customers’ needs.”

The President noted the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have seen an over 40% drop in the number of long dwelling containers.

“Some of you have been working with my port envoy, John Porcari, to get goods through our ports faster,” the president said at the meeting. “And we’ve seen some progress in that effort with a number of containers sitting on docks for more than eight days — down by over 40% this month.  And we keep building on that progress.”

[See more: Target, Levi’s, Walmart and More Battle Supply Chain Disruptions]

“We’re seeing progress with port congestion and staffing levels as a result of the administration’s recent actions, and the outlook for maintaining stocked shelves improves each day,” said Karen Lynch, CVS Health President and CEO, in a statement, who attended the meeting. “The focus on increased availability of over-the-counter COVID-19 tests has also had a meaningful impact and provides countless families with protection and peace of mind during the holiday season. With regard to our pharmacies, we’ve been able to utilize our expertise and extensive partnerships throughout the supply chain to ensure the continued availability of prescription medications since the onset of the pandemic.”

Attendees at the meeting included:

  • Corie Barry, CEO, Best Buy
  • KS Choi, CEO, Samsung
  • Carlos Castro, CEO, Todos Supermarket
  • Meg Ham, President, Food Lion
  • Ynon Kreiz, CEO, Mattel
  • Karen Lynch, President and CEO, CVS Health
  • Doug McMillon, President and CEO, Walmart
  • Rodney McMullen, CEO, Kroger
  • David Rawlinson, President and CEO, Qurate Retail Group
  • Josh Silverman, CEO, Etsy