The festivities surrounding Saint Nicholas (5 December) and Christmas make December a typical month of gifts and celebration in the Netherlands. Toy shop sales are highest in November, off licence sales peak one month later. In both branches these peaks are offset by a dip in turnover in January.
Toy shops: peak in November
The around one thousand toys shops in the Netherlands sold 740 million euro worth of goods in 2001, just over 100 euro per household on average.
A large proportion of this turnover is realised in the last two months of the year. On average sales in November equal total sales in the months January, February and March together.
December, too, is a lucrative month for toy shops: they usually sell twice as much as in an average month.
Off licences: peak in December
Sales by shops specialising in wines and spirits peak in December, when they sell twice as much as in an average month. However, they have to pay for this with two meagre months in January and February. In the last few years, off licences have even sold less in the first two months of the year than in the first two months of 1995, while overall the turnover for retailers in this branch was 14 percent higher than in 1995.
Paul Mooijman and Cor Pierik