Shops for everyday items
There are supermarkets in all towns in Germany, and also in some villages. You can get many key items to cover your daily needs here: bread and meat, yoghurt and chocolate, household cleaners and toilet paper. Supermarkets are normally open from 7am until at least 8pm. Do you want to buy really fresh food? Many towns have a weekly market once or twice a week. It is often on a Saturday. At the weekly market you can buy fresh fruit, vegetables and regional specialities. You can find fresh meat and cold meats at the butcher’s (Fleischerei; known as Metzgerei in Southern Germany). You can buy fresh bread in bakeries. Some bakeries, butchers and other small shops close for lunch. They are usually only open until 6 or 6.30pm in the evening. The weekly markets normally run from early morning until afternoon. All shops are closed on Sundays.
If you don’t want to leave your home to shop, you can use a delivery service: you ring up the delivery service or fill out a form on the internet. Then someone will bring your pizza or mineral water for instance to your house. However this service costs more than buying the goods in the shop. Many villages have no shops, but mobile tradesmen travel there on a regular basis. They sell groceries and other everyday items.
Specialist shops and the internet
If you want to buy a cupboard, computer or a pair of shoes for instance, you can go to a department store or a specialist shop. Department stores stock a large variety of products. Department stores are mainly in towns. Specialist shops specialise in particular products. For example there are furniture stores, electronics outlets or shoe shops. Opening times are mostly from 9am to 8pm, but sometimes only until 6.30pm.
Nowadays you can also find many things on the internet. Usually you only have to wait a few days before the products are delivered to your home.
In Germany various methods of payment are commonly used. You can pay with cash everywhere. If you have an account with a high street bank or savings bank (Sparkasse), you will be issued an EC debit card and often a credit card (MasterCard or Visa) as well. In some supermarkets, department stores and specialist shops you can pay with your credit card.
On the internet you pay by credit card, but also by direct debit or invoice. If you want to pay by direct debit, you have to enter your account details online. The money will then be taken from your account. If you are invoiced, you transfer the money from your account.
Prices, warranty and exchanging goods
In most shops in Germany there are fixed prices for all products. Sometimes you can negotiate at the market or where large sums in specialist shops are concerned. But haggling is not usually the norm.
Have you bought something that is faulty? Then you have 2 years in which you can claim under statutory guarantee: you will be given a new product. Or you return the faulty product and your money will be refunded. Or you will have to pay less. Sometimes products are also covered by warranty. If the product, for instance a television, breaks during the guarantee period, it is repaired free of charge. Or you will be given a new television. Some shops also offer the facility to exchange: if you don’t like the product, you can return it. Your money will then be refunded. On the internet or in larger shops and department stores it is usually possible to exchange goods within 14 days. For this you need to show the receipt or invoice. It is often not possible to exchange goods on special offer.
Frequently asked questions
Where do I find shops near where I live?
Go to www.gelbeseiten.de. In the box labelled “Was” (What), type in “Supermarket”, “Butcher”, “Baker” or “Department store”, for example. Enter the name of the town where you live in the “Wo” (Where) box, for instance “Köln” or “Hultrop”. It will then display a list of businesses.
Where can I get cheap groceries and products?
Usually products in larger shops are cheaper than small ones. If you want to save money, it’s best to shop in supermarkets or department stores. You can also buy cheap groceries at the weekly market. You will also find special offers in many shops. Flea markets are becoming increasingly widespread. You can buy especially cheap second-hand clothing, used furniture and many other household items there.
Where can I buy materials for home improvements?
In a DIY store (Baumarkt). You will find everything you need for home improvements here. They often sell furniture, plants and household items there as well.
Where can I buy a washing machine?
In some department stores and in specialist shops. Department stores and specialist shops will deliver the appliance to your home. But then it costs more. You can find used washing machines in the classified section in the newspaper. Or you can look on the internet. You usually have to collect second-hand washing machines yourself.
Where can I buy products from my home country?
Sometimes that is difficult. Some products are not available here. But cities often have smaller shops that sell products from many countries around the world. Major supermarkets also frequently stock international products.
Can I shop on a Sunday?
Generally not. In larger towns there is usually a grocery store at the main railway station. You can buy drinks at a kiosk. Fuel stations also sell drinks and groceries. You can also order food from a delivery service on a Sunday and in the evening.
Is internet shopping secure?
Not all offers are genuine. On the "Welcome to Germany" website you will find some tips on safe shopping on the internet.
„Willkommen in Deutschland“
I have bought a faulty product. What can I do now?
Was the product faulty when you bought it? Then you are entitled to a two-year guarantee. You will be given a new product. Or you can return the product and have your money back. Or you don’t have to pay as much. What if you didn’t notice the fault until 6 months after you purchased it? Then you have to prove that the product was already faulty when you bought it.
I have questions about contracts of sale. Who can help me?
You can find important information about contracts of sale on the "Welcome to Germany" website. If you have problems, you can get help from the consumer centre. Click on the state in which you live on the home page. This will take you to advice centres or services via a link.
„Willkommen in Deutschland“
What is the difference between a drugstore and a pharmacy?
In a drugstore you can buy toiletries, household items and health products that do not require a prescription from the doctor. It is often possible to also buy food and organic products there.
On the other hand, a pharmacy mainly offers drugs and medicines for which a doctor’s prescription is often required.
Which basic food stuffs are native to Germany and where can I find some basic cooking recipes?
German basic foodstuffs include, for example, bread made of various cereals, pork meat, beef and poultry, fish, fruits and various vegetables, pasta, rice, potatoes, lentils and peas, onions and garlic, sugar, salt and pepper, cow’s milk and various dairy products such as cream, butter, cheese, yoghurt or curd, and beverages such as mineral water, juice, coffee or tea, etc.
You can find some recipes here, for example: