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Winter in Amsterdam isn’t just about museum-hopping, cosy brown cafés and piping-hot bitterballen: it’s also the best time of year for bargain-hunting. Canny consumers hit the shops for big-name designers and hip streetwear at purse-friendly prices.
Not so long ago, the Dutch sales seasons were restricted to January and July. But happy shoppers now see winter discounts creeping forward into December, and extra mid-season sales in between. Unlike their French and Belgian counterparts, Dutch retailers can choose when to hold their sales and start dates vary store by store. Look out for the posters announcing uitverkoop (sale), opruiming (clearance), solden or even just ‘sale’. Hang on till January for the biggest discounts, sometimes up to 70 per cent off – just leave plenty of room in your suitcase.
Dutch stores usually put winter items on sale in January, perfect for buying that fabulous coat you’ll wear until spring. It pays to be prepared: note individual opening times and check out current stock online, ready to hone in on key items. And sharpen your elbows: in January 2018 the crowds after bejewelled heels at Shoebaloo got so big the store had to close for the day.
Inject some laid-back cool into your wardrobe with a trawl through the city’s favourite boutiques. We Are Labels stocks Scandi style – find the best prices year-round at their outlet shop in De Pijp. Or hunt out pretty trinkets at jewellers Anna + Nina, who take inspiration from their travels in Asia. Lifestyle store Hutspot (‘hotchpotch’) has a bit of everything, including an in-house barber.
Amsterdam is the denim capital of the world, birthplace of G-Star RAW, Gsus and KOI. Seek out hip new jeanmaker Denham for premium quality and incredible fit. Other home brands to stock up on while you're in town include fun and frilly undies by Love Stories, and Scotch & Soda's colour-blocked coats and quilted jackets, designed with the Dutch weather in mind.
You could pass the whole day in De Bijenkorf (it means 'the beehive'), a high-end Dutch department store housing five floors of fashion brands. Prefer something a little more intimate? Concept store Cottoncake has carefully edited womenswear, plus pretty own-brand pieces and scents, and a healthy café – so you needn’t brave the elements for your shopping fix.
If you can't make the winter sales, plan your trip to coincide with one of Amsterdam Noord's Spring or Autumn sample sales, held in a vast industrial space. There's typically 50-70 per cent off a huge range of premium brands. And don't forget the city's famous flea market. Historic Waterloopleinmarkt, held year-round Monday-Saturday, is always worth a rummage.