Biden takes credit for Target grocery price cuts: ‘They're answering the call'

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
  • President Joe Biden is hoping voters give him credit for the news that retailers such as Target are lowering prices on groceries and other items.
  • Target's price cuts are a signal that retailers are taking note of consumer price fatigue.
  • Biden says his administration's pressure campaign on corporations to lower prices is at least partly to thank for companies making certain goods cheaper.
  • Wendy's and McDonald's have also announced lower-priced meal options to keep budget-squeezed customers in their stores.

President Joe Biden took a victory lap after Target announced it was lowering prices on groceries and other items — and hopes voters will give him the credit.

"President Biden called on grocery chains making record profits to lower prices for consumers — and they're answering the call," the White House wrote in a social media post Monday evening in response to a headline about Target's price cuts.

Earlier on Monday, Target announced it would lower prices on roughly 5,000 items, including food items such as bread, fruit, vegetables, milk and meat. The company said cuts on 1,500 items had already taken effect and thousands more would come over the summer.

It is timely news for Biden who has spent the past several years mounting a corporate pressure campaign across various government agencies.

With the November election less than six months away, Biden now wants voter recognition for that corporate battle, especially as he tries to sell a tough economic pitch that his policies have helped consumers as they still feel some high costs of living.

Early national polls showed that voters blamed Biden for lingering budget constraints post-pandemic. In turn, the president punted the responsibility onto large corporations, accusing them of keeping prices artificially high even as their production costs were coming down.

"President Biden's top economic priorities are fighting inflation and lowering costs for the American people," White House spokesperson Andrew Bates wrote in a memo Monday. "Standing up to corporate price gouging is at the core of that fight."

Customers shop at a Target store in Miami, Florida, on May 20, 2024.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
Customers shop at a Target store in Miami, Florida, on May 20, 2024.

For grocery chains, the corporate crackdown has been especially fiery.

Last week, in a letter to Biden, Democratic lawmakers alleged that grocery stores were fixing prices, urging him to take executive action to lower food prices.

A March report from the Federal Trade Commission claimed that grocery stores took advantage of supply chain disruptions to raise prices and keep them high. The FTC has also sued against the attempted merger of grocery giants Kroger and Albertsons, which the agency claimed would limit competition and result in higher prices for consumers.

These actions come as Biden routinely slings shots at corporations for "price gouging" and "shrinkflation."

In March, Biden launched the Strike Force on Unfair and Illegal Pricing, jointly led by the FTC and the Department of Justice's antitrust division, to address his corporate pricing complaints.

Now, Biden is trying to attach his policies to Target's price cuts to help make the connection for voters and any economic relief they might soon feel.

Aside from the political opportunity for Biden, Target's announcement ultimately helps confirm an economic signal that the tides of corporate pricing power are starting to turn.

The latest consumer price index found that grocery prices decreased 0.2% between March and April.

Various sectors have begun to report that the long-awaited pullback in consumer spending is taking hold after years of sticky inflation.

Along with Target, the growing consumer price fatigue has triggered companies such as Wendy's and McDonald's to begin offering lower-priced meal options to keep budget-squeezed customers in their stores.

"We know consumers are feeling pressured to make the most of their budget, and Target is here to help them save more," said Rick Gomez, Target's executive vice president and chief food, essentials and beauty officer, in a release announcing the cuts.

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