The problem is that the manufacturers have given the wholesalers/distributors exclusive rights to the country (probably for a fee) and the distributors are thieves. They have no interest in there being price competition when they have a monopsony position. If a retailer goes behind the distributor's back on film, they are in contravention of their supply contract and the distributor will (threaten to) punish them, e.g. by withholding goods or cranking that store's prices up. So if a retailer wants to direct-import film, they basically need to direct-import absolutely everything photographic-related that they sell, which is a huge time/labour sink. That's the story I got from my local store; B&H are big enough that they can do all that warehousing themselves and have their own little grey market.
Originally Posted by Ken Nadvornick
My guess is that the retailers see all those lost sales as less-bad than either not being in business at all, or having an even-less-profitable arrangement whereby they import everything themselves. Of course no serious photographers buy their film here, but they still sell a bit of it to people who are either dabbling or urgently need a couple rolls.