Just arrived and feeling a bit overwhelmed? Here’s a few tips you need to know about shopping in Germany. For more details, see our article on Shopping Beyond the Commissary.
On weekdays, stores may stay open until 8 p.m., though many close at 6 or 7 p.m. Some businesses close during lunch, sometime between noon and 3 p.m. Many small stores might close one afternoon a week, usually Wednesday. On Saturdays, stores may stay open until 8 p.m., but many close at noon or 2 p.m.
All shops are closed on Sundays: Gas stations, airports, railway stations and souvenir shops in resorts are the only places open. If you forgot to buy milk, cokes, beer, and some packaged foods, you can buy it at the nearest gas station. Don’t despair though! There are almost always events and festivals taking place in the towns and cities surrounding you on Sundays, so take a look at our event calendar and find something to do!
Returns are normally handled as exchanges or credits with a “Gutschein” or voucher. You may not be able to get your money back, but you can ask. Be sure to bring your receipt.
Bring a basket or bag to the store with you — these aren’t always provided, although they are sometimes available for purchase. Everyone bags his/her own groceries and don’t be shy about buying small quantities: Germans shop frequently for fresh food and often buy cheese and cold cuts in portions of 100 grams — less than a quarter of a pound (or enough for one person).
Usually you pay a € 1.00 coin deposit to use a shopping cart. You insert the coin in the slot in the handle of the shopping cart, and you get the money back when you return the cart.
At Small Shops
People may not form a line or take a number at many small shops such as bakeries and butchers, or at vegetable stands. Stand close to the counter. Clerks are pretty good at serving whoever came first, but don’t be shy about speaking up when it’s your turn. Cashiers will often put your change on a small plastic tray on the counter instead of directly in your hand.