City centres busy as shoppers rush to buy Christmas gifts

Shoppers in Amsterdam. Photo:
Shoppers in Amsterdam. Photo:

Officials in Rotterdam urged shoppers to stay away from the city centre on Saturday, as crowds rushed to buy Christmas gifts ahead of the impending lockdown.

‘Do not come to the city, and avoid crowds,’ the council said on Twitter. City car parks were also full and traffic regulators were drafted in, in an effort to control the number of cars.

The cabinet is expected to announce that all non-essential shops must close at Saturday night’s press conference, leading to a surge in last-minute shopping.

‘We thought we could take our time and shop this week,’ one woman told ‘But now we have to rush to get everything in.’

In Amsterdam, shopping streets were busy but not overcrowded, and bars and cafes were brimming with people making the most of the final hours before the lockdown. Café terraces were also open and full of Christmas shoppers.

It was also busy in The Hague, Leiden and Den Bosch, with queues outside some popular shops, news website reported.

The lockdown, which will involve the closure of all non-essential shops, is expected to come into effect on Sunday morning.

Important week

Dutch retail association INretail said the lockdown is the worst possible news. ‘This is the most important week of the year,’ a spokesman told broadcaster NOS. ‘People are on holiday and want to shop and buy presents for under the tree. And shopkeepers have also ordered in on that basis.’

The Netherlands has some 56,000 non-essential shops.

The association called for Europe-wide rules, saying that people living in the border areas will do their Christmas shopping now in Belgium and Germany.

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