(Grocery) Shopping in Germany


In Germany there are a lot of different supermarket chains. Some of them offer high quality products for higher prices, others operate as discounters. The latter, of course, is more attractive for students who usually do not have large amounts of money to spend on groceries. In the Western Part of the Ruhr Area – and especially in Duisburg – the following supermarkets, ranked from cheap to expensive, are predominating:



Of course, here in Germany there are also small or local supermarkets offering organic products, or specialized products from specific countries.

Payment & Checking out

In German supermarkets you can pay your products in cash at any time. They further accept Giro Cards (e.g. Maestro Cards). Often, but not always, it is also possible to pay by Credit Card.

Please also keep in mind that German products are taxed with a Value-Added-Tax (VAT) of 19% for standard products and 7% for groceries, books and magazines. However, differently than in the stores in the USA for example, the price tag assigned to a particular product is the price you will have to pay. So the VAT is already included in the presented price. You can still see the tax amount that you paid on your receipt though.


Packing the Purchases

Another difference you may notice in German grocery stores is the fact that you will have to bag your purchases on your own. And, since the conveyor belts are quite small, you will have to do that quite quickly in order to avoid long queues and delays, and ultimately: annoyed cashiers and other customers. If you need a (plastic) bag to carry your purchases you will have to pay up to 20 cents for that. A plastic bag needs to be picked by yourself from beneath the conveyor belt before paying your groceries. So, better bring your own bags to carry your things!


Shopping Hours

Generally, German supermarkets are open from Monday to Saturday, mostly from 7 or 8 a.m. until 8 or 9 p.m. On Saturday opening hours may vary. Principally, German laws forbid stores to open on Sundays. Some supermarkets like REWE, however, offer online shopping options on their website.

This is not only true for supermarkets but also for boutiques, shopping centers or specialist stores. The opening hours for small kiosks, which can be found along almost every street in Duisburg, may vary from those of supermarkets as they are often opened until past midnight.


Deposit for Bottles

Another very important thing to know: In Germany you pay a deposit for bottles. If you buy a bottle of water, for example, and the etiquette contains a sign like this one


the bottle is subject to a deposit. If you bring back the empty bottle to the supermarket and put it into the deposit machine you will receive a receipt that you can redeem at the checkout of the supermarket. You can either get your money back in cash or you can offset the amount with your purchases. For plastic bottles the deposit is about 25 cents while glass bottles are subject to a deposit of around 8 cents.

This deposit system was established in order to keep streets clean. If at any time you are too lazy to bring back an empty bottle to the supermarkets just place it NEXT a public garbage can. In every city there are people who pick them up from the streets in order to gain a little extra money.


Alcohol and Cigarettes

If you want to buy alcohol or cigarettes you have to prove that you’re above the age of 16 or 18. In order to buy beer, champagne or wine you need to be at least 16 years old, while buying distilled spirits as well as drinks or food products containing distilled spirits is only possible if you are at least 18 years old. In order to buy cigarettes you also have to prove that you are at least 18 years old.

In Duisburg the most famous beer is König Pilsener. You will be able to buy it in almost every supermarket, at petrol stations or at kiosks.


Drug Stores

Of course you can buy things like toiletries, make-up and similar products in the supermarkets. There, however, you will most of the time find a limited selection or range of products only. In Germany we have specialized drug stores for these products. The most famous ones are Müller, dm and Rossmann. Douglas also offers these products but they sell more expensive brands for higher prices.


Supermarkets and Drug Stores in Duisburg

The following map demonstrates where to find which supermarket in proximity to the University in Duisburg:


Aldi Süd, Edeka and Penny can be found at Sternbuschweg while Netto, Rewe and ProBioMarkt (a shop for organic products) are located at Mülheimer Straße next to the Hotel Rheinischer Hof. For drug stores (dm and Rossmann) you best go to Oststraße. There you will also find some other small shops for food and clothes.

Written by Jessica Wewer

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