FTC to investigate retailers and the supply chain crisis

Nov 29, 2021, 7:25 PM
Walmart guns...
FILE - In this March 31, 2020 file photo, a woman pulls groceries from a cart to her vehicle outside of a Walmart store in Pearl, Miss. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — The FTC is demanding big box retailers hand over what they know about supply chain problems that are impacting the country.  Retailers in Utah says companies will be more than happy to work with the government. However, they still have some concerns. 

USA Today reports the federal government is ordering companies like Walmart, Amazon and Kroger (the parent company of Smith’s Marketplace) to turn over any information they have on supply chain disruptions.  According to the report, these companies have 45 days to comply. And they have to highlight all of the factors that disrupt their ability to “obtain, transport and distribute their products.”

Analysts in Utah believe big box retailers would be very willing to help identify what is slowing down the supply chain.  Utah Retail Merchants Association President Dave Davis says there’s a reason to be optimistic about conditions improving.  He’s hearing anecdotal evidence that operations inside shipping ports in California are getting better, although slowly.

Davis said, “We’re seeing better staffing and [ports] running longer hours at the port.  So, they’re just processing more goods through the ports, right now.”

The ‘Imperfect Storm’ causing supply chain issues

Still, even if operations at the ports were running at full speed, Davis says that wouldn’t entirely solve their problems.  He says the country is still dealing with a severe labor shortage. And the country’s current shortage of truck drivers is making things difficult for everyone.

He said, “I wish that I could point to one thing and say ‘this is the problem.’”

Even though Davis believes retailers will be willing to work with the FTC, there are some things he is concerned about.  For instance, he says the federal government shouldn’t require retailers to divulge proprietary information that would hurt the company’s working systems.  Plus, he says this is not a good time to ask retailers to focus on anything other than sales.

“The timing of the request is probably not ideal in that it’s coming right during the middle of the biggest selling season,” Davis said.

As bleak as things may appear for customers, Davis believes the country is in a better position than it was in 2020, in some ways.  He says we had plenty of goods on store shelves last year, but consumer confidence was quite low.

“I think what we’re seeing this year is just the opposite of that, which is that we’re struggling, a little bit, to get goods into the stores, but consumer confidence is much higher than it was a year ago,” he said.

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