Groups representing retailers, brands and importers from several sectors, including apparel and footwear, have joined calls urging the resumption of talks to try to prevent a strike by dock workers at East and Gulf Coast ports ahead of the busy holiday season.

Negotiations on new contracts broke down at the end of August, meaning workers could walk out when their current contracts expire on 30 September.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has already called on labour and management to return to the negotiating table - saying retailers will be forced to divert cargo elsewhere.

And last week groups including the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) and the Fashion Accessories Shippers Association (FASA) expressed their concerns at the situation and its potential for work stoppages and slowdowns.  

The associations drew attention to the "pressing need for products to arrive on time at their destinations to prevent costly chargebacks from retailers while simultaneously fulfilling customer demand.

"This need for certainty and reliability becomes even more important during the months preceding the holiday season, when all levels of the supply chain increase production in anticipation of the busiest shopping period of the year."

Retailers and importers are already considering contingency plans that will take their products through more reliable ports, including those in Canada, or through entirely different transportation media altogether.