It is most likely that you buy your daily groceries from a supermarket, such as ALDI, Lidl, Albert Heijn, Jumbo, PLUS, Jan Linders, Spar, Coop, or from a local (weekly) market. According to the general price rankings, ALDI and Lidl tend to have the lowest prices, whereas Albert Heijn tends to have the highest prices. Please note that these rankings are approximations. 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 non-prescription medicine, personal hygiene products, band aids, and more you can do at drug stores, such as Kruidvat, DA, Etos, and Trekpleister. Most drug stores also offer an online webshop.
Opening hours city centre
Besides from grocery stores and drug stores, shops in the city centres (such as clothing stores) in the Netherlands are usually 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 stores display their opening hours near their entrances. In several (larger) cities, many stores stay open until 21:00 on one day per week. This varies per city, but typically, this will be on a Thursday or 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.
Home decoration and appliances
For just any kind of home supplies you can go to stores like HEMA, Blokker, Action or IKEA. These stores also have webshops. If you want to buy online, you can also buy from Bol.com, which is the biggest webshop in the Netherlands.
Shopping second-hand is the more sustainable alternative. You may check out the local Kringloop, Marktplaats or Facebook Marketplace. which is an online second hand store.
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.
Books, media and electronic products
You may need to buy some books for classes, or because you enjoy reading. Or maybe you need to buy some electronic products. You can find those products at Bol.com, Coolblue, Surfspot(for hardware and software) or Mediamarkt. As a more sustainable alternative, certain products you may also be able to find at abovementioned second-hand alternatives.
Lastly, some final remarks...
- Bargaining is not customary in the Netherlands (with buying first-hand items). 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, busses 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.