Things you need to know before doing your groceries in the Netherlands
Doing your groceries in another country is a small adventure. To help avoid awkwardness, we will tell you everything you need to know before going to a supermarket in the Netherlands for the first time.
Payment by credit card is less common in supermarket chains and smaller shops. However, restaurants, hotels and department stores generally accept all major cards. Cash and PIN (bank cards) are acceptable payment methods.
Most supermarkets regularly offer special offers in-store. In addition, fresh items getting close to their expiration dates will be marked down with a sticker. You can get them at 35% to 50% off the original price.
Bring your bag
Dutch supermarkets do not offer free plastic bags. Since 2016, all retail stores in Holland, including supermarkets, have been required by law to charge customers for shopping bags. They do this to decrease pollution caused by many plastic bags in the environment. So, if you go shopping, always bring your own bag.
You can buy wine, beer and liquor with an alcohol percentage of up to 15% at Dutch supermarkets. But for spirits, you'll need to go to a liquor store. These are often located nearby. Some supermarkets have separate liquor stores inside.
The Netherlands has phased out the €0.01 and €0.02 coins. This means that our prices are rounded up or down at the register. Sums are rounded to the nearest five cents; sums ending in 1, 2, 6 or 7 cents are rounded down, and those ending in 3, 4, 8 or 9 cents are rounded up. The rounding is only applied to the grand total, while individual prices are still shown and summed up with the €0.01 precision.
The prices on the supermarket shelf are classified as follows: top shelves will usually carry the more expensive products from A-brands, and at the bottom shelves is where you will find the cheaper products from the supermarket's brand.
Suppose you buy glass beer bottles or large plastic soft drink bottles. You must pay a refundable deposit (statiegeld) of €0.10 or €0.25 respectively. You can return the bottles to a machine at any supermarket. Put all the bottles in, then press the button to get a refund receipt which can be redeemed at the checkout.
Bag it yourself
Don't expect any help packing your groceries at Dutch cash registers. You have to bag your groceries on your own in the Netherlands, and they will be happy if you do it quickly ;).
Many Dutch supermarkets now have self-checkout stations, where the customer scans the bar code of each item and then bags it. The total amount is then paid with PIN at the checkout (no cash). Good to know sometimes an employee will do a random sample to check whether you have scanned all your products. This is just a formality and nothing personal.