Fewer shops on the high street, but no sign yet of Covid shake-out

Photo: DutchNews.nl
Photo: DutchNews.nl

There was a small drop in the number of shops on Dutch high streets last year, in line with the trend in previous years, but as yet no clear impact from the coronavirus crisis, national statistics agency CBS said on Tuesday.

On January 1, there were 85,500 physical shop locations in the Netherlands, down almost 900 on the previous year and since 2010, 13,540 retail premises have gone. Over the same period, the number of online retailers have almost quadrupled.

The biggest drop was in shops selling reading and writing materials. Their number declined by 5%. By contrast there was a 2.5% increase in the number of computer outlets, and slightly smaller rises in specialty food stores and bakers.

The Wadden Sea islands have the most shops per head of the population while Maastricht has the greatest ‘retail density’ of the 25 bigger Dutch cities.

Non essential shops were not closed during the first Dutch lockdown but they have been shut since last December, although are now open for visits by appointment.

The CBS said earlier this year that despite the coronavirus crisis, Dutch retail sales rose by nearly 6% over 2020. This means retail sales have now risen for seven years in a row.

However, there were wide differences between different types of retail. And in the last three months of the year, during which non-essential shops were partly closed, shoe and clothing store sales fell 27% year on year.

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