Tax hike could spark Dutch invasion of German supermarkets

The Dutch are coming! The Supermarket Union in the Netherlands fears they will lose many of their customers to German shops due to a rise in VAT on groceries.

Tax hike could spark Dutch invasion of German supermarkets
Photo: DPA

The new Dutch government has announced plans to raise the sales tax on groceries in the Netherlands from six to nine percent, the Rheinische Post (RP) reports.

Thousands of Germans have previously crossed the border into the Netherlands to buy things such as cheap coffee, headache tablets and cola, but the tables have recently begun to turn.

Many Dutch customers are now travelling out of the country for their weekly shop, as products ranging from food to petrol are noticeably cheaper in Germany. 

This is good news for German supermarkets near the border as they are likely to see a rise in customers but it may cause problems for a range of Dutch businesses.

The increased VAT will not only affect the food prices but may also have a consequent effect on the numbers of visitors to restaurants, hairdressers, bike-repair shops and petrol stations.

Marc Jansen of the 'Centraal Bureau Levensmiddelenhandel' (CBL) told RP, “we will have to pass the increase in VAT on our prices over to our customers. This means people in the border regions will have even more reason to go shopping in Germany.”

Jansen believes that Dutch people will buy many products in Germany that aren't cheaper or are only a little less expensive than in the Netherlands, simply because they are there.

Several Dutch supermarket chains who were surveyed appear optimistic that the effect of the tax increase will not have such a dramatically negative effect as the CBL fears. 

“Naturally every sales tax increase has negative effects, but I find such 'alarm' an overreaction. Customers want to shop close to home,” a journalist from the Dutch newspaper, De Gelderlander, told RP. 

But in a survey of 4,400 people by De Gelderlander, 87% agreed with the statement, “if the supermarkets here become more expensive, I will go shopping in Germany more often.”