Depending on where you find your accommodation, you will most likely buy your daily groceries either from a supermarket, such as ALDI, Lidl, Albert Heijn, JUMBO, PLUS, Jan Linders, or from a local (weekly) market.
It is useful to note that according to the general rankings, the ALDI and Lidl supermarkets tend to have the lowest prices, the Albert Heijn supermarkets tend to have the highest prices and on average, the other supermarkets fall between these two extremes. Please note that these rankings are approximations only. You will be likely to discover that many products are sold at the same prices in all supermarkets, whereas some products of similar quality may be sold at markedly different prices.
Shopping for clothing & home wares
In general, shops in the Netherlands are open from 09:00 to 18:00 on weekdays and from 09:00 to 17:00 on Saturdays. Almost all shops are closed on Monday mornings and increasingly, shops are opening on Sunday afternoons from 12:00 to 17:00, which is known as ‘koopzondag’ (Buying Sunday). Most shops display their opening times near their entrances. In several (larger) locations, many shops stay open until 21:00 on one day per week. This varies from location to location, but typically, this will be on a Thursday or a Friday evening. Until recently, it was normal for shops to remain closed on public holidays, but currently, more and more shops are also opening on public holidays.
In most locations in the Netherlands, an open-air market will be held once per week and sometimes more frequently. Shopping for your groceries at such a market may save you quite a lot of money, although you will always need to keep an eye on the quality of the products. Larger open-air markets also sell clothing, cosmetics, fabrics and other items. Again, you may find some excellent bargains, but the quality may vary.
General shopping tips
- Bargaining is not customary in the Netherlands. With very few exceptions, you will be expected to pay the marked price.
- Always be sure to take a shopping bag with you, as even in supermarkets, you will be expected to pack your own groceries and bags are not usually provided free of charge.
- The Dutch do not tend to queue, as you will no doubt notice and you will need to learn the art of gently but firmly getting into, for example, buses and trains. You will also need to learn the art of attracting service in shops. Unless a shop has a queuing system whereby the customers draw numbered tickets, you will be expected to know who was waiting before you, which takes practice (and patience). If a fellow customer glares angrily at you, it will probably be because you unwittingly spoke up before it was your turn to be served. On the other hand, he/she may be bluffing, so do not hesitate to glare back if you are sure that you were next in line.