Expat guide on supermarket chains in Amsterdam
There are a few main supermarket chains in Amsterdam that are scattered throughout the city. The largest of these is Albert Heijn, which can be found in all areas of the city. There are also smaller supermarket/convenience store chains, including Spar and the nightshop, Sterk, but the other supermarkets, like the main discounter Dirk van der Broek, and most notably, the larger hyper/supermarket chain Aldi offers products at much lower rates. However, these less expensive super/hypermarkets are not as widespread throughout the city, and they are – for the most part – located slightly outside the city centre.
Generally speaking, it is important to note that grocery shopping in Amsterdam differs from this kind of shopping in other large cities. For example, supermarkets do not accept credit cards, and most will not accept bills that are above the 50 euro note. Supermarkets in Netherlands can get very busy, so try to avoid peak times such as early evenings and Saturday mornings. Also keep in mind when you shop for groceries in Amsterdam, considering bringing your own bag to carry them in, or else, you can purchase a plastic bag at the checkout, for somewhere between 9 and 20 cents. Some supermarkets offer delivery possibilities at home.
With over 40 stores scattered around the city, it is easy to find an Albert Hein in any area that you find yourself. These supermarkets offer non-specialty foods in a wide variety, and they also sell their own brand, which offers good value for the quality. While the different stores vary in their sizes, they typically have nice selections of international cheeses, wines, beers, in addition to a freshly baked bread section and a prepared food area, so these stores are perfect for meals to go or picnic preparations. Cigarettes, common pharmaceutical products, batteries, ink for printers and flowers can be purchased at the counter that is in front of each Albert Heijn entrance. While spirits are not sold at Albert Heijn, frequently the larger stores are attached to the city’s prominent spirits and/or convenience stores, which are Gall & Gall and Etos, respectively.
Additionally, there are smaller Ah-to-go’s situated in areas of the city that are considered high-traffic zones, such as train stations and main streets within the city centre. In these smaller stores, customers will find a selection of Albert Heijn products and prepared foods, meals to go, snacks and beverages, as well as freshly baked goods and produce, all at slightly elevated prices. However, these shops are often convenient for their location and their prepared and packaged food, so they certainly should not be overlooked. Slightly larger “XL” stores can be found in the outer suburbs of Osdorp and Amsterdam Bijlmer.
Most Albert Heijn stores are open later than normal shopping hours, until either 20.00 or 22.00, and the Ah-to-go shops stay open even later. About half of these stores are open on Sundays, which is atypical for supermarkets in Amsterdam. http://www.ah.nl (Dutch only). You can get weekly offers of great variety by registering for an Albert Heijn Bonus card which you can get for free at the entrance counter.
Dirk van den Broek
This discounter grocery store was one of Amsterdam’s first self-service grocery stores to open, just after the Dutch economy began to reinvent itself after the second World War. Today, it still serves loyal customers, who continue to trust the wide range of general groceries that can be found in these supermarkets for (often) the lowest prices in the city. It is the vast assortment of general groceries and the consistent discounts that keep this supermarket chain a reliable source for most Amsterdammers who prefer to shop less frequently and get everything at once.
While these stores are not located directly in the city centre, there are multiple Dirks located conveniently on the bordering areas, in shopping squares and streets that are frequented by those in the market for household goods and other wants and needs. http://www.superjob.nl (Dutch only).
- Tweede Nassaustraat 23, Amsterdam – +31 20 6860132
- Bilderdijkstraat 126, Amsterdam – +31 20 6122658
- Marie Heinekenplein 25, Amsterdam – +31 20 6795235
Aldi is an international supermarket chain that is especially known for its extremely low prices. It offers as wide a range of products as any other supermarket you will find, but it is able to charge less for these items because of the lack of brand variety that is offered there. Since Aldi generally only sells its products, it can offer them exclusively at a lower rate than other stores that have to burden their customers with the costs of market competition. As in other countries around the world, the Aldi shops in Amsterdam have limited hours of operation, generally opening early in the morning and closing by 18.00 in the evenings and on Sundays. Like most shops in the city, however, they do stay open later on Thursdays, for evening shopping. http://www.aldi.nl (Dutch only).
C1000 is a Dutch supermarket chain. Founded in 1981, at the end of 2008 the chain had 374 stores. The supermarket chain operates in a rather unique manner for a supermarket using the franchise system. C1000 focus for growth is primarily on trying to be the cheapest supermarket. C1000s are mainly located in the outer suburbs but there is a store at Oostelijke Handelskade 1005 (near Java/KNSM Island) not too far from the centre.
In Amsterdam, especially in the centre, where there are always a lot of people at all hours of the day and night, you will find evening shops that resemble the supermarkets that used to exist before the art of self-service shopping became commonplace. These supermarkets/convenience shops offer the basic necessities for eating, drinking, cooking and cleaning, and many of them also include a counter at which they will prepare sandwiches, and slice fresh meats and cheeses. While some of the items in these shops are shelved for grabs, it is typical that you will have to ask the person behind the counter for the items that you would like to purchase, just like in the old days.