Fewer butchers and greengrocers in Dutch high street

03/05/2005 14:00

Numbers of greengrocers’ and butchers’ shops in the Netherlands nearly halved in the period 1994–2004. Shoppers are buying more and more of their meat and vegetables at the supermarket.

Decrease in greengrocers per province, 1994–2004

Decrease in greengrocers per province, 1994–2004

Greengrocers nearly halved

The number of greengrocers’ shops almost halved between 1994 and 2004, falling from 3,070 on 1 January 1994 to 1,625 ten years later. In the provinces Zeeland and Limburg they decreased by a third, and in Flevoland by even less, which is not surprising given the growth of the population in this youngest province. The population in Flevoland grew by 40 percent in the period 1994–2004, compared with 6 percent for the country as a whole.

Decrease in butchers per province, 1994–2004

Decrease in butchers per province, 1994–2004

Butchers also almost halved

Not only are greengrocers disappearing from the high street, but the number of butchers is also decreasing noticeably. On 1 January last year there were 2,960 butcher’s shops in the Netherlands, down from 5,345 ten years earlier. This is a 45 percent decrease in the number of butchers. The fall was about equally large across nearly all the provinces, although Groningen clearly headed the list: exactly half of all butcher’s shops went out of business in that province. In Drenthe the decrease was the smallest: 31 percent.

Specialised food shops, 1994–2004

Specialised food shops, 1994–2004

Fewer specialised food shops per town

In a (hypothetical) average Dutch town of 100 thousand inhabitants there were just over 35 butcher’s shops and 20 greengrocers in 1994. By 2004 these figures had dropped to 18 butchers and 10 greengrocers. Other specialist shops in the food sector did manage to keep their heads above water. In the average town described above ten out of eleven off licences, eight out of thirteen tobacconists, and two to three out of the five cheese shops were still in business in 2004. Some outlets have even increased in numbers in the last ten years: shops specialising in health foods and those selling foreign food products, for example.

Naud Philippens