News that US President Bush is to take action to halt the West Coast port lockout has been welcomed by the National Retail Federation.

Bush plans to invoke the Taft-Hartley Act, which allows the government to halt a strike it deems to be a threat to national health or safety, to suspend the lockout at Pacific US ports for 80 days.

NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin said in a statement: "We hope that the courts act promptly and grant the President's request for an injunction."

"Hundreds of ships carrying hundreds of thousands of containers full of merchandise that retailers need for the holiday shopping season are sitting in the West Coast harbors," she said, adding: "We need to start unloading those ships today."

Shoes and clothing imported from Asia via the West Coast ports are among products impacted by the shutdown.