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Shopping for Expats in Germany

Author: Jason Zhou
Submitted: October 2013

Germany is famous for its high quality products. People all over the world regard “Made in Germany” as a sign of a high quality warranty.  If you are moving to Germany, you will find that plenty of goods are made locally as well as products from all over the world.   

There are supermarkets or small shops for every day needs and most supermarkets offer a large variety of goods and services, including foods from all over the world. Very large stores are normally situated outside of the town or city centre but transport will be very convenient. There are a few supermarkets that dominate in Germany. Some of them are listed below:

  • Lidl
  • Aldi
  • Plus
  • Penny
  • Walmart, and
  • Real

Among them Aldi is the largest one. It is famous for its cheap price with comparably high quality products. There may be a market in the city or town centre where you can buy fresh but cheap vegetables, meat and seafood.

If you want to buy clothing, household goods or electrical equipment you normally need to go to the city or town centre. Nearly every town or city has at least one main shopping street where you can find shops providing different goods and services. You may find large shopping centres or department shores on such streets. 

Often retail parks are situated outside of cities or towns. They usually cover a large amount of space and accommodate many fashion stores, some large furniture stores and electrical goods stores. There are also food courts available. The best way to get there is by car, although public transportation is also convenient.

There are also many Outlets all over Germany, where you can find many designer brands at a bargain price. Famous outlets are listed below:

  • Outlet Metzingen  
  • Outlet Zweibrücken
  • Outlet Wertheim 
  • Outlet Berlin B5
  • Outlet Salzburg
  • Outlet Bremen, and
  • Outlet Wolfsburg

Germany imposes a value added tax at the rate of 19% on most merchandise. The tax is included in the prices so you do not need to calculate this while shopping.

Online shopping

Online shopping is popular in Germany. Most of the High Street shops and the supermarkets have their own online shopping websites. There are also some internet based websites selling merchandise. Some may provide free delivery if your purchases reach a certain amount. For your peace of mind when you buy online in Germany you have the right to return the products within 14 days of purchase without providing any justification.

You can also buy what you want online from all over the world from websites such as Amazon and eBay. You will need to be aware that this is a form of importation. Therefore, this may trigger custom duties and VAT  and some things are not allowed to enter Germany, please check here https://www1.zoll.de/english_version/b0_prohibitions_and_restrictions/index.html  to confirm what is prohibited.

Shopping hours  

Shops normally open for six days a week as business on Sunday is generally not allowed in Germany. The business hours on Saturdays are shorter than in the week. Typical hours in a day are listed as below:

Mondays to Fridays10am to 8pm
Saturdays10am to 4pm

Very large supermarkets may close at mid-night on week days. Small shops close at about 6pm in the week and at 2pm on Saturdays. It is recommended to purchase anything you will need for Sunday in advance as only convenient shops in railway stations,  petrol stations and very small shops called “kiosks” will be open.

 

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