The crisis unfolding in the French port of Calais has yet to take a toll on British retailers, but delivery companies and insurers working between Britain and continental Europe are already feeling the pain.
The migrants, many of whom are fleeing conflict in countries including Eritrea, Pakistan, Syria, Iran and Sudan, have been staying in camps in Calais, trying to break into the vehicles at night.
Nine migrants have died over the past two months, and thousands have been arrested trying to break into the tunnel.
Jaap Stalenburg, a spokesman for the Dutch transportation insurance company TVM, said his company fears for the bankruptcy of many transport firms, as the costs from damages and delays caused by the refugees are increasing. They are now close to 1 million euros, or $1.1 million, a day.
Stalenburg said the losses are due to the British refusing products such as flowers and meat when refugees are found to have been inside trucks, and to damages, stolen goods and overall delays.
Worldnet, the international courier service, told clients via e-mail late last month that the connection between France and England was “difficult” with Channel tunnel and ferry traffic disrupted by the flow of migrants to England. It said its delivery services were affected.
A spokesperson for the British Retail Consortium said its members were coping as best they could.
“U.K. retailers are working hard to ensure their deliveries face a minimum level of disruption. They have well-rehearsed risk management processes in place to deal with supply chain disruptions, including securing alternative routes and methods of delivery.
“The BRC supports the U.K. government in its efforts to engage with other European Union member states to find a workable solution to this issue as soon as possible.”
The spokesperson added that none of its members had contacted the BRC expressing any concern about shortages.
In the meantime, the British government has begun cracking down on illegal immigration by demanding that landlords evict tenants whose requests for asylum have been rejected. Asylum seekers in Britain have the right to rent property while their applications are being reviewed.