Where you can stroll through, ending at a checkout with a shopping cart filled with all kinds of items, which you do not really need, but cannot buy in the Netherlands and which all look equally attractive. A Mediterranean memory for when you – free to Gerard Cox – will soon be back with your slides in the rain, when that beautiful summer is over. Such a summer retail approach would now have been logical and appropriate, but it would not be in the summer of 2020. Everything is different now.
“We’ll stay nice in our own country,” the headline said Champion, the club magazine of the ANWB, this month. Not long ago, that meant that you had spent your holiday money on a new washing machine and therefore did not go further than a trip to the Drielandenpunt in Vaals or a day at the beach in Zandvoort. Now the Dutch holiday is – out of necessity – popular and we still spend our holiday vents at the Jumbo or Albert Heijn instead of in the Carrefour or in the Mercadona. It is therefore a golden age for the big grocers in Zaandam and Veghel and at all those other supermarket headquarters in our country. Meanwhile, according to Nielsen, the Dutch supers have already achieved 6.5% growth and the ultimate expectation is that the growth figure will reach 5.7% at the end of the year. A growth figure, which is almost double the 2.7%, which showed sales growth in the first months of this year. With an additional 2.3 billion euros in turnover, COVID-19 has done its job, the home tourist provides the cream on the cake. And it doesn’t stop there, because Nielsen expects continued sales growth for the super. Also in the expected recession, which is approaching us. We will therefore eat even more at home with the catering industry as a big loser.
Because there are losers. And they are so visible! During the Dutch holiday, put on your walking shoes and enter an average village. Please note: how many empty shop windows do you encounter? How many empty stores? In how many of those buildings are residents, of which you think: they don’t really belong …? The umpteenth nail salon, pedicure, beauty salon. Or hairdresser. The Algemeen Dagblad already published an article about it in 2019: the rapid growth of these types of service providers in the villages of the Green Heart. Villages with local bakers, butchers and greengrocers. With shoe and clothing stores, brown and white goods stores and shops with household items. It all disappears at breakneck speed. From villages and cities. In the same year 2019 I wrote a column about the disappearance of Main Street USA. The main street, recognizable in every American village and town, where retail and catering came together. From “general store” to “barbershop”, from “drugstore” to “dinner” and “pharmacy”. The place where the inhabitants of all those villages and cities met. Main Street USA as the social “backbone” of American society. That main street is also disappearing from the Netherlands or at least getting smaller. The local retail either disappears in the umpteenth blue or yellow supermarket or is swallowed by a digital retail monster. Despite the call of the last months to mainly go for local, it is fighting against the quay. The future for local retail is closed.
(shop image: Anna Shvets / Pexels)