blue laws

You’d think a people with the history as great traders would be able to get the hang of being merchants and shoppers, but apparently not.

One feature of Dutch life that has gotten more convenient since we lived here in 2006-7, is that supermarkets are now open on Sundays from 4-8PM. (I have no idea why those seemed like the right hours to choose – shopping for dinner, maybe.) At least, that’s the theory.

In practice, not so much. Last week I wanted a couple of things I knew they carried at the Jan Linders but not at the biggest chain, Albert Heijn. So I walked on over, taking a heavy bag full of glass bottles with me. There’s a closer place to recycle them, but I decided to carry them further, to the supermarket, so I could return them for the deposit. But nope! Apparently Jan Linders does *not* open on Sundays. At least I got to dump off the bottles at the recycle bin, but I was tired from the rowing machine and would have much preferred to skip the whole.trip.

This weekend, I needed a few things, but of course I’d learned my lesson. So this time I headed off to Albert Heijn, sure that it, at least, would be open. Nnnnnnope. There was a sign on the door saying more or less “Sorry, we didn’t feel like opening today. We’ll be here next Sunday, we promise.” (Yes, I am exaggerating. It just said they were closed and would be open next Sunday.)

In a short-term flowering of commerce, all of the stores, not just groceries, will be open next Sunday, as an extra shopping Sunday before Sinterklaasdag (Dec 6, St. Nicholas’s Day, when Dutch children traditionally get presents instead of on Christmas.) We’ll miss that because we’ll be having more fun visiting relatives in Germany but frankly it loses some of the excitement when you’re used to living in places where shopping on Sundays is normal. (Actually, stores in central Amsterdam and Rotterdam are open on Sunday afternoons, but the idea is slow to spread.)

If you’re wondering, most people here are not religious and don’t go to church on Sundays, so it’s not that. On the other hand, lots of people don’t like even the limited Sunday supermarket hours, because you end up going then and it makes the day less relaxing. Personally I find it makes the whole weekend less relaxing when you can only do all your errands on one day, but I suppose it’s all what you’re used to.

One Response to “blue laws”

  1. Grada Says:

    err, most politely adn hesitantly I beg to differ on this statement: “If you’re wondering, most people here are not religious and don’t go to church on Sundays, so it’s not that.”
    But in a way it is very much that: no, you are right in saying that most people are not religious… as in belonging to a denomination; but the Christian Democratic political party is very much still in force; the Southern part of the Netherlands used to be rather Roman Catholic adn is still much on its influence (the Northern part of the Netherlands is very much still under the influence of the Christian Democratic political party as well, be it from the ore Dutch Protestsant side.. adn the CD i svery much into wanting to have the Sunday quietness… I personally consider this whole thing to be very much a powerplay between several political parties not a true theological adn or religious issue..
    but religion is involved here. If for example most of the Jan Linder shoppers come form RC backgrounds, Jan Linders might decide that not enough woul dbe shopping to make it worthwhile to open (at least 50 percent extra costs over and above the normal personnnel costs… )
    In Rotterdam when shops open on Sunday, it is in the more normal hours of 12.00 am to 18.00 (06.PM); 16.00 to 20.00 (4-8PM.) is the silliest I have ever heard. Mind it is only in the center of town the big shops open!

    to return to 4-8PM… traditionally eh Dutch prefer to have their evenig meal around err, 6PM.. that tradition is wavering but even so… on Sunday open shops at 4-8PM. is SILLY!

    adn, I personally ALWAY check on the Internet whether a shopp will be open.. even in the centre of town, on Sunday.. you just never know for sure!


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