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Shopping for Expats in the Netherlands

Author: Jason Zhou
Submitted: October 2014

When you are in the Netherlands, shopping is one of the most important activities in your daily life, whether you are visiting for a short period or you are settling in the country permanently. The Netherlands is famous for its history and architecture, and many people drawn to the country will also spend some time shopping. There are various types of shop to suit everyone’s needs.

For everyday shopping, you can go to supermarkets or small shops. Supermarkets offer a large variety of goods and services, including foods from all over the world. Very large stores are normally situated outside of the town or city centre. Many big supermarkets also have small convenience stores all over the country. Some of the most popular chains are Aldi, Co-op, C100, Jumbo and Lidl.  There should also be markets in the city or town centre, where you can buy fresher, cheaper vegetables, meat and seafood.

If you want to buy fashionable clothes, household goods and electrical equipment, you normally need to go to the city or town centre. Nearly every town or city has at least one main shopping street, where there are lots of shops. You may find large shopping centres or department shores on such streets. For example, in Amsterdam, the capital city, you can go to Dam Square, Leidseplein, Jordaan district and Museumplein.

You also can buy traditional Dutch specialities such as clogs, Edam and Gouda cheese, gin and tulips. If you love flowers and are in or near Amsterdam, you should go to the world’s largest flower auction at Aalsmeer where there are about 14 million followers and 1 million plants traded each day.

The Netherlands imposes Value Added Tax at the rate of 21% on most goods.  If you are visiting the Netherlands from a country within the European Economic Area, you should be able to get some tax back. For more on eligibility and the rebate procedure, see this page: https://www.globalblue.com/destinations/holland/tax-free-shopping-in-netherlands/.

As an EU member country, Holland has a cooling-off period of seven working days on any purchase. However, this may not always be in force. While large stores may offer you the cooling-off period or easily accept the return of goods if in a resaleable condition, smaller shops may only offer exchanges instead of refunds or have other rules. If you are in doubt, you should check the shop’s return policy before making a purchase.


Online Shopping

Online shopping is popular in the Netherlands. Nearly all stores and supermarkets have their own websites. You can also buy goods online from all over the world via sites such as Amazon and eBay. However, as this is a form of importation, it may trigger custom duties and VAT. Some goods are even not allowed to enter Holland, so before making a purchase you may be unsure about, you should check this carefully.


Opening Hours

Typical business hours in a day are 9:30 to 6:00.  Shopping centres may open longer, until 9:00pm.  Most of the shops open from Monday to Saturday. Large shops may be open for seven days a week, and Superstores may be open 24/7.  

If you want to know the opening hours for your local store, you can check it here: www.openingstijden.nl.




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