WASHINGTON – The National Retail Federation has requested a meeting with President Biden and other top administration officials to discuss the challenges 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,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay this week in a letter to President Biden. “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.”
As the nation’s largest private-sector employer, 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 $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, more than 97% of retailers surveyed say they have been impacted by port and shipping delays.
“In many instances retailers will absorb these costs and not pass them along to consumers,” Shay said. “However, many smaller retailers may have no choice but to pass along these costs, especially as they face other challenges with reopening their businesses.”
The NRF survey of retail members referenced in the letter also included the following:
- The most common challenges respondents mentioned were U.S. port congestion, lack of carrier capacity and lack of available containers overseas.
- More than two-thirds (70%) of respondents say they have had to add two to three weeks to their supply chains.
- All respondents said their costs have increased with a majority (75%) having had to pass along some of the costs to consumers.
- Nearly all (85%) of those surveyed say they are experiencing inventory shortages because of the ongoing supply chain.
I’m Powell Slaughter, senior editor at Furniture/Today. I returned to the publication in January 2015 after nine years of writing about furniture retail strategies and best practices at a monthly magazine focusing on home furnishings retail operations. Prior to that, I spent 10 years with F/T covering wood furniture, the last five of those as case goods editor. Upon my return to F/T, I developed coverage of the logistical and service aspects of the furniture industry as well as following the occasional, home office and home entertainment categories. In April 2018 I took over the upholstery category, with responsibility for coverage of the fabric and leather stationary and motion upholstery, recliners and massage chair categories.