US retailers have welcomed the end to a strike that shut down most of the terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for the past eight days.

"The retail community is pleased to see a settlement of the strike," said National Retail Federation CEO Matt Shay. "We are happy both parties came together, with assistance from intermediaries, to reach a new contract agreement.

"The nation's largest port facility is now re-opened and operating and will hopefully be able to quickly recover from the shutdown."

Attention will now shift to the East and Gulf Coast ports, where federal mediators have been locked in prolonged discussions with labour and management for the past two months.

"We urge the parties to reach a final agreement before their contract extension ends at the end of December. Retailers, manufacturers and the rest of the business community cannot afford another shutdown," he added.

A previous strike as a result of stalled negotiations in 2002 led to lingering supply chain disruptions and cost the US economy US$1bn for each day of the lockout, Shay said late last week.

It took the ports a full six months to recover, and had a "profound" impact on the retailers, importers, manufacturers, agricultural exporters and other affiliated industries that rely on the ports every day.