The vital flow of goods into and out of the UK could be in jeopardy at a critical time as Britain struggles to contain a mutant strain of coronavirus.
New border restrictions in France have led to the closure of key trade routes in Kent on Sunday night.
It is likely to have severe ramifications for UK trade, which in recent days has seen around 10,000 lorries passing through the port of Dover every 24 hours.
Much of the trade passing through the Channel ports consists of perishable goods which need to reach their destination quickly.
But from midnight all traffic to France from the UK will be suspended for at least 48 hours.
– What could this mean for food and goods stocks in the UK?
It is possible that these border restrictions could affect the flow of key goods into the UK.
Andrew Opie, of the British Retail Consortium, said: “The closure of France to UK traffic, including accompanied freight, poses difficulties for UK capacity to import and export key goods during the busy Christmas period.”
He suggested that while goods can still enter the UK from France, it may be that few haulage firms will be willing to send trucks and drivers across to the UK without a guarantee they can return to the EU in a timely manner.
It is believed that many retailers will have already stocked up on Christmas goods which should prevent immediate supply problems.
However any prolonged closure of the border with France would present difficulties for businesses, Mr Opie said.
– What about UK businesses which export goods to the continent?
While lorries bearing products from France can still come into the UK, the same does not apply for many UK goods bound for the continent.
Scottish seafood exporter Lochfyne said that the closure of the French border the week before Christmas was a “disaster”.
A spokesman said on Twitter: “There will be Vivier trucks from all over Scotland heading in that direction, millions of pounds worth of seafood at the time of the most important market of the year the last one before Xmas.
— Lochfyne langoustines Ltd & Lochfyne seafarms Ltd (@LochfyneLangous) December 20, 2020
“Even if we get through 48 hours later we will miss the Xmas deadline, this is unbelievable.”
– What about traffic in Kent?
The Government has warned of “significant disruption” in the area and said people should avoid travelling to Kent ports.
There is a distinct possibility of problems on the county’s highways on Monday morning as businesses face uncertainty over the movement of goods.
Huge queues of HGVs stretching for many miles along Kent highways have become a familiar sight in recent days due to Christmas preparations and Brexit stockpiling.
Transport Select Committee chairman Huw Merriman said the situation at the border with France is “very alarming”.
The Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle said there was no need for panic but that it was “important that we find a way through before transport and ports are completely blockaded”.