Shopping behavior in the Netherlands - statistics & facts

The coronavirus pandemic left its mark on consumerism in the Netherlands. The main trend in the Dutch retail landscape during and after the COVID-19 outbreak was the acceleration of digitalization. Before the coronavirus, shopping behavior in the Netherlands was already characterized by a high penetration rate of e-commerce, and the (temporary) closure of brick-and-mortar stores only increased online shopping activity. Aside from the wide-ranging digital shift of commerce, the pandemic and resulting economic crisis have inspired consumers to change their shopping ways. For example, groceries and hygiene products were purchased in bulk to stock the 'pandemic pantry', fast fashion is making room for vintage and durable apparel, and the socially conscious consumer who prefers locally sourced products is becoming more and more prominent. Simply put, the Dutch shopper of today operates in the digital sphere and is increasingly socially and environmentally conscious.

The digital shift

From a European or global perspective, the e-commerce market in the Netherlands is highly developed. Despite the absence (until early 2020) of global internet Leviathan Amazon, the Dutch are used to purchasing their essential and non-essential items on the internet. For instance, over a third of consumers in the Netherlands purchased their groceries online in 2019. This was made possible by the extensive food delivery infrastructure provided by major supermarkets such as Albert Heijn and Picnic, the latter of which is an online-only supermarket which recently received the largest venture capital investment in Dutch history. Compared to the food market, the non-food sector has an even higher online sales share of more than 40 percent for many product categories. Even before the coronavirus outbreak, these figures were predicted to increase rapidly in the coming years.

The green shift

The emerging socially conscious shopper values sustainability very highly. The share of green shoppers has been increasing rapidly in the Netherlands, and the evidence of this can be found everywhere: supermarkets, streets, people’s homes. Firstly, in the supermarket, an increasing number of products has an official sustainability certification. For instance, more than 80 percent of eggs sold in supermarkets are certified organic or animal friendly. Secondly, around a third of Dutch consumers either use or expect to use sustainable products to modify their homes, such as solar panels, ecological washing machines and smart energy-saving software. Finally, the streets in the Netherlands are full of zero-emission cars. In fact, the Netherlands are a front runner in the market share of electric vehicles, and more than 30 percent of consumers in the Netherlands expect to purchase an electric car in the future.

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Shopping behavior in the Netherlands

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