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An East Coast Port Strike Could Have Devastating Impact

The prospect of a major strike at U.S. East Coast ports is alarming national retailers.

Workers at California’s Long Beach and Los Angeles ports recently ended a strike, which is not expected to harm holiday sales. However, an official at the National Retail Federation warned that a strike at East Coast ports could extend from Maine to Texas and have a much greater impact on retail sales compared to the West Coast port strike, Reuters notes.

A major strike against East Coast ports that could have damaged holiday sales was averted when the U.S. Maritime Alliance, which represents cargo carriers and port operators, and the International Longshoreman’s Association extended their collective bargaining agreement until December 29. The agreement was originally set to run out at the end of September.

The agreement covers 20,000 longshoremen who load and unload cargo from ships docking at East Coast and Gulf Coast ports. The two sides continue to negotiate, but a new agreement has not yet been announced.

The California strike is estimated to have cost the region $8 billion in lost revenue. Retailers including Target (NYSE:TGT), Home Depot (NYSE:HD) and American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO) say they have enough merchandise on hand to offset that strikes effect. However, The Gap (NYSE:GPS) had previously warned elected leaders that it would have to reduce hours at California distribution centers if the strike had persisted.

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