Long traffic jams have built up on the major roads into Dover, Felixstowe and Calais as thousands of lorries – many containing Christmas presents and food – queue to get in and out of the UK.
The problems are being caused by a mixture of firms stockpiling goods to prepare for a potential no-deal Brexit, Christmas demand and shortages caused by the Covid pandemic.
Photos show mile upon mile of lorries stacked bumper to bumper on the M20 in scenes that have become familiar to Kent residents over the past few weeks.
It’s feared the problems will become even worse once the Brexit transition period ends on December 31 and customs checks are introduced on the border.
Retailers say they are are still waiting for goods they ordered over the summer and the cost of shipping is also sky-rocketing as a result of the issues, MailOnline reports.
The cost of moving a container from Qingdao, China to the UK now stands at £7,500 per load which nearly four times the £2,000 it was previously.
The added costs are being passed onto the consumer with the most sought-after gifts for Christmas becoming more expensive as a result.
Analysis by MailOnline found some products have increased by between £10 and £40 each in the past week including a Barbie Dreamhouse, electric scooter and Star Wars Lego set.
The Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium Helen Dickinson told the website: ‘After a tremendously challenging 2020, many firms’ cashflows are under severe pressure, and so businesses are in no position to absorb these additional shipping costs.
‘As a result, consumers will pay the final price. Christmas orders could be delayed, and retailers might be left with no option but to increase product prices. These issues must be addressed urgently. An inquiry would provide the scrutiny needed to help get our ports flowing freely again.’
French media are also reporting problems of their side of the border. Queues have at times reached 40km on the A16 into Calais with 4000 more lorries a day than usual.
The newspaper Le Parisien quoted a French brewery as saying ‘The British are stocking up like crazy…Our beer exports have increased by 20%’.
Labour’s Ian Murray, the shadow Scotland secretary tweeted: ‘This is when the reality of Brexit comes up against the blithering hot air of the last 4.5 years.
‘Wait until there are checks at the border. The queue will stretch back to Newcastle and the PM still insists no deal is a good option.’
Earlier, Boris Johnson warned the prospect of agreeing a trade deal with the EU is ‘looking difficult’, as Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier said there are ‘just a few hours’ left in the Brexit talks.
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