Due to the lockdown, campuses were virtually empty, meaning it was impossible for the small supermarket chain to keep its branches open during those months. All nine on-campus supermarkets operated by the chain in the Netherlands were closed for the entire period, except for the branch in Utrecht.

Hanging in there

They were not easy months for the SPAR University chain. The company survived due to government hand-outs and support provided by the parent company and the payroll company with which the supermarket chain works.

At present the shop on Tinbergen Square is empty. However, the employees on permanent contracts will start stacking shelves on Monday, and a week later, on the first day of Eureka Week, the supermarket will reopen its doors to customers. For now, though, business hours will be shorter than before the lockdown: on weekdays the shop will be open between 8am and 6pm. It used to stay open until 9pm.

“This is partly due to a lack of manpower,” a spokesperson explained. Like many cafés, restaurants and shops, Spar University is having a hard time finding staff working on flexible contracts. “Obviously, we used to employ a lot of international students, but most of them are no longer in Rotterdam. So we’re really keen to find new people.”

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