Biden Axes Supply Chain Crisis Address, Seeks 'Ample Time' to Meet Business Leaders at White House

© REUTERS / MIKE SEGARA ship stacked with shipping containers is unloaded on a pier at Port Newark, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2021.
A ship stacked with shipping containers is unloaded on a pier at Port Newark, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.11.2021
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Earlier, US President Joe Biden met with the CEOs of several major retailers at the White House to discuss measures to tackle global supply chain bottlenecks and inflation, which have been a cause for concern among both businesses and consumers across the US.
President Joe Biden cancelled addressing supply chain issues following his COVID-19 remarks in a speech on Monday.
The US POTUS was originally scheduled to speak on efforts to “strengthen the nation’s supply chains, lower everyday costs for families, and ensure that shelves are well-stocked this holiday season", according to the White House schedule. Yet minutes prior to Biden’s remarks, the White House announced that they were postponed.
According to Biden officials, the cancellation was because the president wanted “ample time” to meet with business leaders visiting the White House.
"The President will no longer deliver remarks following his meeting with CEOs. These remarks will be delivered on Wednesday, Dec. 1," said the statement.
On Monday, Joe Biden had hosted a roundtable of CEOs of major retailers and grocers to discuss efforts to bolster the nation's supply chains and address inflation concerns. Those attending included Best Buy, Food Lion, Etsy, Walmart, Mattel, Samsung and CVS Health.
Apprehensions over whether store shelves would be adequately stocked to meet the holiday season had come amid a post-pandemic demand for goods coupled with slowdowns encumbering the global shipping system. The number of days containers waited to be picked up by trucks at California’s ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach climbed to a record in October, reaching 7.6 days, according to the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.
During the roundtable on Monday, Biden’s tone was laced with optimism as he said "consumer spending has recovered to where it was headed before the pandemic."
Compared to the previous year, Americans have "a little more hope," said the POTUS.
"Early estimates are that Black Friday sales were up nearly a third since last year and in-store sales were up by even more than that. We're hearing similar reports from Small Business Saturday. ... And I'm sure some people watching us online are also doing a little Cyber Monday shopping right now," stated Biden.
The President went on to thank medical professionals for developing and administering COVID-19 vaccines, adding that "we were able to have a very different Thanksgiving as a consequence of that."
Prior to the roundtable, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that "throughout the holidays, products will be on shelves and consumers will be able to purchase what they want and need."
Earlier this month, the Biden administration outlined several initiatives aimed at addressing supply-chain challenges exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, including $4 billion worth of construction at coastal ports and inland waterways as part of the president’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by lawmakers.
Surging consumer demand, labour shortages and manufacturing delays overseas linked to the pandemic had prompted higher transportation costs and inflation, shrinking availability of some items at stores.
© AP Photo / David ZalubowskiLast-minute shoppers wear face masks as they search for Christmas Eve deals in Park Meadows Mall late Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020, in Lone Tree, Colo.
Last-minute shoppers wear face masks as they search for Christmas Eve deals in Park Meadows Mall late Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020, in Lone Tree, Colo. - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.11.2021
Last-minute shoppers wear face masks as they search for Christmas Eve deals in Park Meadows Mall late Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020, in Lone Tree, Colo.
The emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant, first identified in South Africa, has also triggered concerns.
Joe Biden said during the roundtable with CEOs that the US would fight the Omicron variant with "science and speed," not "chaos and confusion."
After Biden on Friday ordered a ban on non-Americans traveling to the US from eight African countries, including South Africa, on Monday he stated that Omicron was a “cause for concern, not a cause for panic” and urged Americans to get vaccine booster shots.
This comes as a CNBC/Momentive Small Business Survey for Small Business Saturday revealed that 52% of Americans didn’t intent to shop on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday.
According to the survey, conducted by Momentive from 10-12 November, 72% of Americans polled deplored higher prices in the last three months, while 62% acknowledged seeing low or out-of-stock inventory. 43% admitted they were worried over supply chain issues impacting the holiday shopping season.
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