President Biden said Wednesday the U.S. supply chain is in "very strong shape" ahead of the holiday season, but the president stopped short of promising gifts will arrive to Americans on time, leaving that duty to Santa Claus.
Biden, speaking from the White House Wednesday, said his administration has been able to "handle the huge surge in goods" moving through ports across the country, which he said is "translating to shelves across our country."
The president reflected on his meeting with CEOs from retail companies earlier this week, saying that the administration’s partnership with the private sector is keeping goods moving through the supply chain to "ensure the shelves are stocked heading into the holiday season."
The president met with CEOs of Walmart, Best Buy, CVS, Samsung, Mattel, Etsy, QVC and more. Biden also said he has been in touch with CEOs of UPS and FedEx.
"The CEOs I met with this week reported that their inventories are up, shelves are well-stocked, and they’re ready to meet the consumer demand for the holidays," the president said. "I’ve also spoken with the CEO of UPS and FedEx, which are on track to deliver more packages than ever."
But the president stopped short of promising every holiday gift arriving on time.
"Now, I can’t promise that every person will get every gift they want on time," Biden said. "Only Santa Claus can keep that promise."
Biden, though, noted that there are items "every year that sell out" and are hard to find.
"Some of you moms and dads may remember Cabbage Patch kids back in the 80s, or Beanie Babies in the 90s or other toys that have run out at Christmastime in past years when there was no supply chain problem," Biden said.
"But we’re heading into a holiday season in very strong shape, and it’s not because of luck," the president continued. "We averted a potential crises by figuring out what needed to get fixed, and then we brought people together to do the hard work of fixing it – that’s exactly what we’re doing."
As for the increase in prices, Biden said that "just about every country in the world is grappling with higher prices right now as they recover from a pandemic."
"This is a worldwide challenge, a natural byproduct for a world economy shut down by the pandemic as it comes back to life," Biden said. "Prices are still out of sync as the world comes back, but as we continue to overcome these obstacles, the more price pressures will ease."
Biden, though, said he has not "been content to sit back and wait."
"I’ve used every tool available to address the price increases and it’s working," Biden said, pointing to his move last week to release a supply of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help bring down prices.
In October, the White House announced that the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach would become 24/7 operations, along with commitments from the largest carriers of goods – Walmart, FedEx and UPS — as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to relieve supply chain bottlenecks, strengthen supply chain resiliency and ease shipping backlogs.
At the time, retailers and the White House issued a stark warning to consumers about holiday shopping, urging they buy gifts early as the shipping crisis stifles production.
Supply chain issues are a source of mounting concern as global economies attempt to meet surging demand and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shortages of basic household items, such as toilet paper, raw materials needed for construction and critical tech components, such as semiconductors, have contributed to a surge in prices for consumers.
The issues prompted Biden to form the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force to identify and eliminate bottlenecks in U.S. supply chains.