68 thousand more companies in 2020 despite COVID-19

In 2020, the number of companies in the Netherlands increased by 68 thousand (3.7 percent). This is partly due to the relatively low number of business closures, in which government support measures may play a role. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on newly released figures.

Over the past decade, the enterprise population in the Netherlands has been rising steadily year-on-year; the enterprise birth rate has exceeded enterprise deaths each year. At the start of 2021, the Netherlands boasted 1.92 million enterprises, an increase of over 50 percent relative to 10 years previously. The enterprise population grew again in 2020, by 3.7 percent. The increase was considerably smaller than in the three previous years. In the period 2011-2019, the number of businesses in the Netherlands rose by 5.3 percent on average annually.

More and more small businesses

A striking development is the rise in companies with 1 employed person. In the past decade, this number has gone up from 888 thousand to more than 1.5 million, i.e. an increase of 69 percent. The share occupied by this size class has increased as well: in 2011, 69 percent of all Dutch enterprises had 1 employed person and by 1 January 2021 this had risen to more than 78 percent.

Enterprise population by size class, 1 January
Periode1 employed person (x 1,000)2 tot 9 (x 1,000)10 to 49 (x 1,000)50 to 249 (x 1,000)250 or more (x 1,000)

Sharp growth in number of webshops

The highest growth rate in the number of enterprises was recorded in the education sector last year (8.2 percent). Within this sector, the number of companies providing study guidance rose by more than 9 percent. The construction sector and the health and welfare sector also saw relatively strong growth: more than 6 percent. Within the latter sector, home care was up by nearly 10 percent.

Despite the sharp drop in enterprise births in accommodation and food services in Q2 and Q3 2020, the number of businesses in this sector grew by 5.2 percent last year, only slightly behind 2019 (6.2 percent). This can probably not be viewed in isolation from the coronavirus support provided by the government and the accompanying low number of business closures as of Q2 2020.

In absolute terms, the number of businesses rose most notably in construction (11.7 thousand), trade (11.6 thousand) and health and welfare (10.6 thousand). The sharp increase in the trade sector is almost entirely attributable to a substantial rise in the number of webshops. In 2020, more than 13 thousand webshops were added (24 percent). The number of market traders saw a relatively strong decline, namely 4 percent.

Enterprise population by sector, 1 January
Sector2021 (x 1,000)2020 (x 1,000)
Specialised business services371.6367.0
Health and welfare179.5169.0
Culture, sports and recreation116.4113.7
Other services112.1109.3
Information and communication100.298.5
Financial services95.895.4
Renting and other business services85.581.1
Agriculture, forestry and fishing76.175.1
Accommodation and food services65.061.8
Transport and storage50.848.0
Other sectors33.933.1