A considerable but declining part of Dutch retail business is still conducted by small enterprises, which are usually owner operated. Some of the larger department stores in the cities have branches in small towns, and there are several nationwide supermarket chains. Cooperatives and associations are becoming increasingly important in both purchasing and producing.
Amsterdam is the chief center for commerce and trade, with Rotterdam and The Hague next. Most foreign firms have a single representative for the whole country. Many companies use the Netherlands as a distribution center for European markets. Terms of sale usually call for payment within 90 days. A value-added tax of 19% applies to most goods.
Business offices are generally open from 9 AM to 5 PM on weekdays and are closed Saturdays. Retail stores usually open between 8 and 9 AM and close between 6 and 7 PM on weekdays and Saturdays.
The country's most important trade fair is held at Utrecht, twice each year, in the spring and fall.