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Rotterdam - Shopping

The sales tax in The Netherlands is 19%. Most shops in Rotterdam are open Mondays to Fridays 10am to 6pm. On Saturdays, the shops are open from 10am to 4pm. Many shops open late until 8 or 9pm on Thursday nights, and some shops (even large departmental stores) open an hour or two later on Monday mornings. Night shops ('avondwinkels') are open on Sundays. Despite its name, night shops are not 24-hour shops – they operate until 1am or so. These night shops are good for last-minute or late night grabs but expect to pay more for this convenience. While shops in Rotterdam centrum are open on Sundays, do not expect shops outside Rotterdam centrum to be open on Sundays. Supermarkets open on Sundays as well.

Grocery shopping in Rotterdam differs from shopping in large departmental store chains in the US in one major aspect – there is no one-stop grocery shop. Although it is more time-consuming, most expatriates find it better to shop like the locals – to make smaller purchases from “specialty" shops to get better quality and value for money. For example, it is better to purchase fish and seafood ('vishandel') from a specialist store as the storekeeper can gut, clean and fillet the fish for you. Smaller specialty stores that sell daily produce ('zuivelhandel') are a great place to try Dutch cheese.

Albert Heijn is the largest supermarket chain in Rotterdam – there are many stores found throughout Rotterdam. Other supermarket chains include Jumbo, C1000, Edah and Plus. Some supermarkets offer delivery services and/or internet shopping. Budget grocery stores are Spar, Super de Boer and Bas van de Heijden. The Dutch supermarket chains average against other European supermarket chains such as Carrefour.

Toko specializes in ethnic spices and delicacies (mostly Indonesian and Indian), and they are a number of shops found in Rotterdam. The Kruiskade area is a good place to stock up on ingredients used in Asian cooking. For English and American baking needs, try the Dutch Windmill shop in Hillegersbery (Terbregse Rechter Rottekade 91).

Woonboulevard Capelle in Watermanweg has a decent selection of home furnishing stores where you can purchase furniture. It is close to the Alexandrium megamall. There are two Ikea stores in Rotterdam. HEMA, Marskramer, Blokker and Xenos are Dutch stores for smaller house furnishings. Upmarket shops are Life Style, Dille and Kamille and de Bijenkorf Rotterdam.

For personal care items (e.g. vitamins, beauty products, baby care products), you can try Etos or Kruidvat or Trekpleister. These stores also sell a wide range of non-food products like DVDs and exercise equipment. It is also possible to develop photographs at some of these stores. Douglas and ICIParisXL have a good range of big brand cosmetics, perfumes and skincare products.

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