On weekdays - department stores and supermarkets usually open at 9 - 9.30am and remain open until 7 - 8 p.m.
On Saturdays - they may remain open until 8 p.m. but some may choose to close earlier. Until a few years back, opening times were even more restricted on a Saturday and you weren't able to buy anything after 4pm (a nightmare for Shopaholics).
Some supermarkets, like Te Gut, are open till 10pm.
On Sundays and public holidays - Forget it! Actually restaurants, petrol stations, and shops in airports, and train stations are open on Sundays/Holidays.
!Note - In smaller villages shops tend to close earlier than in the towns and cities.
All prices on labels include tax.
To calculate the cost in pounds, divide the Euro price by the current exchange rate.
Value Added Tax (Mehrwertsteuer MWst) is 19% at the moment, it went up from 16% in 2007 - thanks Angela!
However, in Germany you also pay tax on books, food and children's clothing at 7%.
Credit cards are usually only accepted by the larger department stores.
Many supermarkets and electrical outlets will only accept a German debit card (EC card) or good old cash. So plan your shopping carefully, it is best to ask before you fill up the trolley.
When you return an item you are given an exchange or credited with a voucher (Gutschein). Cash refunds are not always given and remember you must have a receipt.
Supermarket shopping in Germany can take a bit of getting used to. At first it seems as though there is a lot of choice, and then you suddenly realise there is a choice of 20 different types of potato salad, or 50 different types of red pepper (paprika) flavoured crisps. I am not joking!
Most German supermarkets do not let you fill up your own baskets or shopping bags (other than those provided) in the shopping area. There are usually signs, in German, giving notice of this restriction, which is a safeguard against theft. It is possible that if you do carry a basket or bag you will attract attention if not downright suspicion. I have even been asked at the till to show that my shopping bag was empty. Unaccompanied children may also be closely watched by store detectives.
All supermarkets are non-smoking (except for in designated areas).
A shopping trolley will usually require 1 Euro in the slot (which you get back at the end). Some supermarkets also have baskets available (but not all).
No one will offer to show you where anything is.
People will be stacking shelves as you shop (watch out for your toes). The usual remark from those carrying out the work is " Vorsicht!" (watch out!)
You will probably (with very few exceptions) have to pay for a bag - cloth (about 1 Euro) or plastic (about 20 cents).
At the cheese or deli counter there is no numbering system. Assistants are usually quite good at spotting the next customer, but speak up if you get overlooked.
No one will offer to bag your shopping for you, carry your shopping for you or otherwise help you out. You are on your own!
Clothing sizes in Germany differ from those elsewhere in Europe. I have been in some shops where you need a PhD in order to understand the labels.
In Germany the smallest dress size for a woman is a 34 (based on the measurements of chest, waist and hips in centimeters).
The smallest bra size is 70 (cup A, B, or C); the largest size is 85.
Undies, on the other hand, are the same size as a dress: a woman who wears size 38 in a dress will probably take size 38 knickers.
In ladies' shoes, Germany's size 36 is England's 3 - 4.
For dresses a size 38 - 40 in Germany is a size 12 - 14 in the U.K.
And men's clothing is different too! The sizes S, M, L, XL, XXL and even XXXL are widely used. In numbers the sizes range from 46/48 being the smallest and 62 the largest. Measurements in centimeters are still taken according to the chest and neck size for shirts, vests, jackets and overcoats, while trousers are measured along the inside leg and waist.
Shoe sizes for men range from 39 (a size 7 in the UK) to a size 47 (13 in the UK).
It can be confusing so I have included a conversion chart (E&OE) below:-
|Shoes||Dresses, Suits, Trousers, Skirts, Blouses, Coats etc.||Bra Sizes|
|34 - 36|
|41/42||7½||34||13½||M||48/50||46||36 - 38|
|42||8||35/36||14||L||52/54||48||38 - 40|
|42/43||8½||37||14½||XL||56||50||40 - 42|
|43||9||38||15||XXL||58||52||42 - 44|
|44||9½||39/40||15½||54||44 - 46|
|45||10||41||16||56||46 - 48|
|45/46||10½||42||16½||58||48 - 50|
CHILDREN'S CLOTHES (KINDERKLEIDUNG)
(height in cm)
|D (height in cm)||UK (age)|
|21||4½||62||3 months||98||3 years|
|21/22||5||68||6 months||104||4 years|
|22||5½||74||9 months||110||5 years|
|23||6||80||12 months||116||6 years|
|23/24||6½||86||18 months||122||7 years|