Differences in store density between Belgium and the Netherlands

Who doesn’t know that? Store density is substantially higher in Belgium than in the Netherlands. It’s a well-established fact. Well, not quite. Locatus had it also wrong

In 2006, Locatus started mapping the Belgian stores. First, the province of Flemish Brabant. On the basis of store density in this province, an extrapolation was made for the entire country, taking into account a greater number of shops in regions such as Brussels. We anticipated a total of 180,000 outlets.


We were wrong by 20%. There seemed to be almost as many outlets in Belgium as in the Netherlands, while the population is only two thirds of the Dutch population.

With 222,000 shops, the Netherlands has 134 shops per 10,000 inhabitants.
With 212,000 shops, Belgium has 191 outlets per 10,000 inhabitants.

The main explanation for this is that Belgium has a lot more outlets in the hospitality and service sector. If we look exclusively at retail, the differences are much smaller. Let’s look at the scores of the Belgium – Netherlands match in retail. I’ll focus on a few sectors.

BE_vs_NL_womens_fashionWomen’s fashion:  Belgium – the Netherlands 1-1 

Netherlands seems to lead with 6726 outlets in the Women’s fashion sector, compared to 4545 in Belgium.  But if we look at shop density per capita, we end up with a tie: Both countries have 4.1 women’s fashion outlets per 10,000 inhabitants.  If we look at shop density per province, it is striking that Zeeland and West Flanders are the frontrunners. These are relatively sparsely populated areas, but very touristy.  For Flevoland and Flemish Brabant, the attraction of the capital is so strong that the number of fashion stores in these provinces is relatively low.



Jewelry Stores: Belgium – Netherlands 1 -0

Netherlands and Belgium have almost as many jewelry stores: Netherlands 1535 and Belgium 1525. But if we look at the number per capita, Belgium is the winner.

Belgium: 1.4 jewelry stores per 10,000 inhabitants

Netherlands: 0,9 jewelry stores per 10,000 inhabitants.

In the Netherlands the province of Limburg is the most jewel-loving province. For Belgium, once again the coastal area is doing well. Of course, besides the province of Antwerp and Brussels.


Bicycle Shops Belgium – Netherlands: 0-1

Netherlands, the cycling country. Belgium and the Tour of Flanders. For both countries, bikes are high priority. But that the Dutch are almost born with a bicycle is reflected in the number of outlets: Netherlands 2698 and Belgium 1219. Which means 1.6 bike shops per 10,000 inhabitants in the Netherlands and 1.1 bike shops per 10,000 inhabitants in Belgium. Yet in Belgium, a number of regions are winning in terms of store density compared to some Dutch provinces.

The map clearly shows that cyclists prefer flat landscapes. I must admit that I probably wouldn’t bike my way to work if I was in the Ardennes.

Previously my colleague Nicole Dirksen scrutinized the bicycle sector in more detail in her blog

 ‘Will the Netherlands lose its title of “Bike country” to Belgium?’


Garden Stores:  Belgium – Netherlands: 1-0

Also for the garden sector, there is a higher shop density in Belgium: 1.1 retail outlet per 10,000 in the garden sector compared to 0.8 outlet in the Netherlands.

Here, we’ve grouped three sectors involved with garden-related activities: Garden, Garden centers and Garden furniture. If we consider retail surface, the garden centers are undoubtedly the largest branch of the sector.

Belgium has clearly more shops per 10,000 inhabitants, but if you look at retail surface (RS), the picture changes. The Netherlands has clearly larger stores. In this country, the RS per 10,000 inhabitants in 1311 m², while it’s only 911 m² per 10,000 inhabitants in Belgium.


Computer Stores Belgium – Netherlands: 1 -0

The number of computer stores in both countries is much closer than for bike shops: 993 in the Netherlands and 893 in Belgium.

The store density in Belgium is 0.8 per 10,000 inhabitants, 25% higher than in the Netherlands.

As indicated earlier, the number of stores is only one factor to look at differences in retail between the two countries. Another important factor is the shop sales area.

I can feel another blog coming.

The provisional standings: Belgium – Netherlands: 4 -2


Astrid Custers

Astrid is Marketing Communication Manager at Locatus and thus comes into contact with lots of interesting information. As a result, she walks around the shopping streets with a certain degree of professional deformation – and writes about these observations…