Dutch cities overwhelmed by shoppers hunting for Black Friday deals
Black Friday deals and a Sinterklaas rush led to overflowing shopping streets in cities across the Netherlands as municipalities asked the public to stay home and stick to the government’s coronavirus advice to avoid busy places.
One-way streets in Amsterdam
Over the weekend, Amsterdam was overwhelmed by shoppers trying to make the most of the Black Friday deals in the run-up to Sinterklaas and Christmas. On Friday, November 27, the municipality implemented a one-way system on Kalverstraat and Nieuwendijk in an effort to control the crowds, and took to Twitter to ask people to stay home and avoid the city centre:
The one-way system stayed in place all weekend, and the municipality advised that those who needed to get any shopping done should in their own neighbourhood and shop at local businesses. They also asked people to only travel into the centre during the week or early in the mornings when it was less busy.
On the Municipality of Amsterdam website on Friday morning, residents of the Dutch capital were reminded of the importance of shopping locally and supporting local, independent businesses, stating that should people fail to adhere to the basic measures currently in place (i.e. maintain 1,5-metre distance from others), then the option to take-away would have to be brought to an end: “Markets, cafes, restaurants, and other takeaways are the perfect places to support our local entrepreneurs. If you want take-away to continue to be possible, stick to the basic rules.”
Shops were closed in Rotterdam and The Hague
Amsterdam wasn’t the only city struck by overwhelming busyness over the weekend. In Eindhoven, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Dordrecht, shops were closed earlier on Saturday in an attempt to disperse the crowds.
The mayor of Eindhoven wants to discuss the events of the weekend with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his fellow cabinet ministers, as he believes a national approach is required to limit congestion in major shopping streets: “The moment I issue an emergency order that no one can enter a shop tomorrow at 3 p.m., they go to Den Bosch, Breda or you name it. We need agreements that can be organised and fulfilled nationally,” he said.
Government denies receiving a request to ban Black Friday
Some may be surprised that the Dutch government hadn’t planned for a busy Black Friday weekend. However, speaking on the Dutch TV programme Buitenhof on Sunday, Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb stated that the mayors who chair the 25 security regions in the Netherlands had urged the cabinet to cancel Black Friday this year.
According to the cabinet, however, this isn’t true. On Sunday, a spokesperson for the cabinet said it never received such a request, and stated that such a ban would be difficult to implement. They also said that security regions and mayors had the power and authority to implement any measure they felt was necessary in order to limit the spread of coronavirus.
While the footage of major shopping streets may be shocking considering how empty cities have been for the bast eight months, the cabinet highlighted that the crowds on Friday were nothing compared to those of 2019’s Black Friday. In fact, figures from INRetail show -- were down by 72 percent this year.