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Published on: 11 March 2022

Vacant shops Amsterdam

The centre of Amsterdam has been hit hard by corona. According to the Dutch newspaper Parool, the number of vacant shop premises has tripled in the last two years. In addition, the hotel and catering industry has lost about half of its turnover. Hotels in Amsterdam are having a tough time of it. For them, the turnover in 2019 was six times higher than in 2020 and 2021.

Where is the revenue?

Entrepreneurs’ association Amsterdam City reports that turnover in the inner city, Old-South and Old-West has been very poor for two years now, according to CBS data. Even now that most of the rules surrounding corona are history, the situation is still far from ideal. The figures are nowhere near the figures for corona; there is still a difference of dozens of percent.

Who has been affected?

In 2019, the research bureau Locatus reported that around 60 shop premises were vacant and in 2021 this would be around 190. Willem Koster, the chairman of Amsterdam City, says the decline in turnover is still manageable in the base. Turnover fell by about 15 per cent in 2020 and recovered to 7-8 per cent in 2021. However, this is not a realistic picture according to de Koster. This is because the businesses that benefited from corona – such as supermarkets – are also included in this measurement. It is mainly the shops that suffered from strong competition before corona, such as fashion and shoe shops, that were hit hard during the crisis.

Past, present and future

Amsterdam City is of the opinion that the support measures were stopped too early. The bustle that Amsterdam experienced before Corona has not yet returned, and that takes time. For example, in 2017 there were about 1.3 to 1.4 million overnight stays in ‘Centrum XL’, while in 2021 this number would be only a third. Ticket sales for museums, theatres and other attractions also decreased significantly. From just over half a million tickets sold in 2017 to just over 80,000 in 2021.


Amsterdam City intends to put the plight of Amsterdam’s entrepreneurs on the agenda for the city council’s list leaders’ debates. For example, according to Koster, more freedom must be given to the recruitment campaigns to get the bustle back into the city centre. The entrepreneurs’ association also wants the ‘dirty’ streetscape to be looked at during the list leaders’ debates. According to the municipality, the streets were too busy for this before the corona crisis, but even during the undesirable calm in the shopping streets caused by the corona measures, the municipality did not manage to get the streets clean. The municipality does give subsidies to companies in a Business Investment Zone so that entrepreneurs can jointly deploy cleaning services, but so far this has not been enough.

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Articles by Koen Wanders

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