In Germany’s shops, there is a lot that your heart desires – from fresh, locally grown food at weekly markets to inexpensive furnishings and luxury items “Made in Germany”. Here we explain when the shops are open and what you should pay attention to when paying.

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Opening hours

Large shops – especially in the city centers – are usually open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Some supermarkets don’t close until 10 p.m. or midnight. Smaller shops outside the city are usually open until 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and until 2 or 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Different shop closing laws apply depending on the state. But you can also shop outside of these opening times in Germany: Shops in train stations, petrol stations and very small shops, the “kiosks”, sometimes offer the most essential food and drinks around the clock – even on Sundays and public holidays. In many cities, there are also “shopping Sundays” up to four times a year. On these days, many shops are open as an exception and customers can often experience live music and cabaret in the city centers in addition to the shopping spree.

Pay

In most stores, you can pay with cash, debit or credit cards. However, some smaller shops only accept cash, while others accept it EC card only from a certain amount. Those who shop online can also transfer the money or pay the invoice cash on delivery. Cash on delivery means that you pay the money directly to the postman or supplier when the goods are delivered. By the way: apart from buying larger purchases such as furniture or electrical appliances as well as used items, it is not customary in Germany to negotiate the price. The price on the label applies! For larger new purchases, however, you may be able to negotiate free delivery or a small discount.

Value–added tax

The state levies 19 percent VAT on most things that you buy in Germany. The reduced tax rate of 7 percent applies to certain products, for example staple foods such as milk or bread, on books, newspapers, flowers and works of art. You do not have to pay attention to the tax rates when shopping, because the prices in shops and restaurants already include the tax.

Consumer protection

German companies attach great importance to the quality of their products and are also obliged to comply with the statutory Consumer protection to be observed. Toxic or carcinogenic ingredients are prohibited for certain products. Particular attention is paid to harmful substances in toys, tattoo inks and cosmetics. Companies must therefore check whether their goods are free of harmful substances and meet the overall quality requirements. You can find more detailed information on the website of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. The EU has also defined a strategy for ensuring safe food. It ensures that the strict quality standards are applied both to food produced within the EU and to imported food. More information can be found here. More and more people in Germany are consciously choosing organic products. If you pay particular attention to healthy eating and high-quality products, you can use the organic seal on the products as a guide. The organic seal stands for ecological production and animal welfare. You can find organic products in health food stores and supermarkets.

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