A senior official in the Biden White House reportedly said that Americans can expect shortages to impact the Christmas season. “There will be things that people can’t get,” a senior White House official reportedly told Reuters.
Supply chain issues have been taking a massive toll on retail and transportation companies. Logjams have occurred at several ports, preventing ships loaded with goods from being able to dock. The situation is particularly dire at ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, which account for 40% of all shipping containers entering the United States.
As of Monday, there were 62 ships berthed at the two ports and 81 waiting to dock and unload, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.
On Wednesday, it was announced that the port of Los Angeles would soon be operating for 24-hour, seven-days-a-week operations with assistance from the federal government. The Long Beach port has been operating 24 hours daily for seven days for roughly the past three weeks.
Biden met with the heads of major retailers on Wednesday in order to address increasingly critical supply chain issues. The anonymous White House official reportedly told Reuters that Americans need to be “flexible and patient” in regards to empty shelves.
Inflation is projected to have a large impact on the Christmas shopping season as well. Last month, the Federal Reserve predicted a 2021 inflation rate of 4.2%, well above its 2% target. Inflation has also had an impact on wages and purchasing power. Labor Department data shows that Americans made 0.9% less per hour on average in August than they did one year prior.
As inflation reaches its highest levels since the 1980’s, the costs are showing up in vital industries. Gas prices have climbed to the highest point since 2014 while food and rent costs have also increased. In August, food prices jumped 0.9% after increasing 0.4% in the prior month.
“Inflation is no longer ‘transitory,’” said Sung Won Sohn, professor of finance and economics at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. “Supply-chain bottlenecks are getting worse. The logjam is unlikely to ease anytime soon despite the latest intervention by the White House.”