As an expat, you’ll know just how challenging it can be to know where to buy certain goods in your new home. While our guide to Dutch supermarkets can help when it comes to food, what about all those other life essentials? Without the shops and brands you’re familiar with, you might not know where to buy beauty products, choose a new carpet, or even pick up a new houseplant. To help you out, this guide to shopping in the Netherlands includes the following information:
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An overview of shopping in the Netherlands
Historically speaking, shopping in the Netherlands centered around the main street (hoogstraat) through towns and cities, as well as market squares (markt/plein). Today, these continue to be the areas where you’ll find the widest range of shops and banks, as well as restaurants, bars, and more. Throughout the Netherlands, these central areas have excellent transport links, including trams, buses, and, of course, bike paths.
Unlike some other countries, the Netherlands has been able to maintain these central areas as the main shopping districts. However, you’ll find some of the larger retailers (including furniture and electrical stores) in purpose-built retail parks on the edge of town. But don’t worry if you don’t have a car, because even out-of-town shopping areas have excellent cycle infrastructure.
Generally, shops in the Netherlands open at either 08:00 or 09:00 and close around 18:00 on weekdays and Saturdays. Hours on Sunday are likely to differ in small towns and villages but may remain the same in larger shopping areas. In more rural areas, you may find that some shops close on Monday morning, too. Most stores have a list of opening hours visible near the entrance, so check ahead of time to ensure you don’t miss out.
Dutch department stores
Department stores might not be as numerous as in other European countries, but they more than make up for it with their product range. The most famous Dutch department store is De Bijenkorf (which literally means the beehive). This premium store has seven prominent city-center locations dotted around the Netherlands, although the most famous branch is next to Dam Square in Amsterdam.
In these department stores, you’ll find many high-end products, from men’s fashion to cookware and everything in between. Some locals may also refer to HEMA as a department store. However, in reality, HEMA is more of a variety store that sells a wide range of practical goods, from basic clothing to bike accessories. Larger stores also sell groceries and some have a cafeteria where you can indulge in a Dutch specialty – a HEMA rookworst.
Clothes, shoes, and accessories
All large Dutch towns and cities have a main retail area in the center where you’ll be able to find a range of clothing stores offering men’s, women’s, and children’s fashion. Alongside HEMA, some of the most common Dutch fashion retailers include C&A, WE, and America Today. You’ll also find discount clothing and textile stores in many neighborhoods and smaller towns, including Wibra and Zeeman.
In larger urban areas, you’ll find a host of well-known international fashion retailers alongside De Bijenkorf, including H&M, Bershka, Zara, Uniqlo, Primark, and more. Well-known shoe stores like Clarks, Ecco, and Camper also have stores in the Netherlands, alongside many local and global names. You’ll only find a good selection of high-end retailers in the larger cities, but this will include a good mix of international brands and local independent shops.
Sports and leisure
There’s a whole lot more to this country than cycling – although you’ll probably want to check out some of these scenic biking adventures in the Netherlands. In fact, there’s a whole host of outdoor pursuits you can explore, from football to paddle boarding and everything in between. To get yourself prepared, you’ll probably want to visit your local sports and recreation shop.
Thankfully, there are plenty of these stores for you to choose from in the Netherlands. The biggest nationwide chains include Decathlon and Sprinter. However, there is a network of independent sports and leisure stores across the country, so search online for your nearest one. Large Decathlon stores can be found in out-of-town retail parks, too.
Unsurprisingly, the Netherlands has plenty of bike shops. The vast majority of these are independent, with most neighborhoods having their own bike shop where you can pick up accessories, repairs, or even a new ride. Relatively few chain bike shops exist in the Netherlands, although Halfords and Het Zwarte Fietsenplan may be names you see more than once if you’re looking for cycling outlets. For more information, read our guide to cycling in the Netherlands.
DIY, home, and garden
Thinking about giving your Purmerend pad a new lick of paint? Or maybe you want to spruce up your roof garden in Rotterdam? Whatever you’re thinking, the Netherlands has a good range of independent and chain DIY stores. Gamma, Praxis, and Karwei are the three largest chains. These stores are generally found in edge-of-town locations or near industrial estates. However, a growing number can be found on high streets.
If you’re after furniture, the Swedish retailer IKEA has 13 locations in the Netherlands. Other furniture chains include Leen Bakker, Beddenreus, and Karwei, alongside a whole host of regional and independent retailers. If you’re looking for carpets, Carpet Right has stores in most large towns and cities. Department store De Bijenkorf also sells a range of home furnishings.
If you’re green-fingered, you’ll be happy to know that the Netherlands has plenty of garden centers to keep you busy. Most of these are independently-run, so you may need to look online for your nearest one. You’ll also find a plant shop or florist in most neighborhoods, offering a selection of plants and flowers.
Books, magazines, and stationery
When it comes to buying books, most expats will be more interested in finding stores that stock foreign books, whether in English, Spanish, or other languages. Thankfully, the Netherlands has a decent selection of international bookstores, including Waterstones in Amsterdam. In addition, many local bookstores will stock some English-language books, so explore your nearest store and you might be surprised by what’s inside.
Dutch booksellers Bruna and Primera also sell a range of stationery, newspapers, and magazines. Some of these stores also include Post NL services, allowing you to send and receive packages in your neighborhood. Stores like HEMA and discount variety stores Xenos and Action also sell a range of stationery, alongside other household goods, dry groceries, and more.
Electrical and technology
Looking for the latest gadgets and appliances for your home? Whether you’re after the latest TV or a brand-new food processor, finding tech from around the world is fairly easy in the Netherlands. The biggest Dutch chains include MediaMarkt and BCC, although you’ll still find plenty of independent stores supplying a range of electronics.
For smaller household appliances and other items like cookware, Blokker can be found in most neighborhoods and small towns in the Netherlands. Alternatively, supermarkets like Lidl often have a small selection of household goods and appliances to choose from. For mobile phones, you’ll find that the largest manufacturers and operators have stores in most large towns and cities.
Health and beauty
The Dutch are known for their effortless style, and you’ll want to look your best even when cycling in that rain shower. Thankfully, there are a lot of local health and beauty shops to choose from. The biggest chains include Etos, Kruidvat, and Trekpleister which all sell a range of medicines, beauty products, and more. International retailers such as The Body Shop and Lush can also be found across the country.
If you’re looking for health foods, the Dutch have it covered. From ethical supermarkets like Ekoplaza and Marqt to international chains like Holland & Barrett, you’ll have your pick. However, most natuurwinkels are independently-owned, so check online for your nearest one. Pharmacies can be found in most neighborhoods and you’ll be able to recognize them by their large green crosses outside.
Children’s clothes and toys
The Netherlands is a great place to bring up children. With accessible cycling and loads of outdoor play areas, your little ones will love it. If you’re looking for toys, stores like HEMA, Blokker, and Zeeman stock a wide variety for children of all ages. For a dedicated toy store, however, you’ll need to check out Intertoys, which has around 200 stores in the Netherlands that are filled with all sorts of toys.
For children’s clothes, check out your nearest HEMA, Zeeman, or Bristol, another Dutch discount clothing retailer. There is also a wide range of independent retailers across the country offering children’s and baby clothing, toys, and accessories. For more information on all things maternity-related, read our guide to having a baby in the Netherlands.