Expats who move to Germany will find that the country offers many high quality products. Locally made products as well as products from other parts of the world are easily available here.
Malls are not as popular in Germany as they are in a country like the United States. But you can find them in most cities, along with shopping centers. There are also many Big Box stores, although it may be slightly difficult to reach then through public transport. Some of these stores include IKEA, Baumarkt for building materials and MediaMarkt for electronics.
However many such stores have doorstep delivery as well as online shopping facilities. The city centers are full of stores that cater to your day-to-day needs and these are easily accessible by public transport, walking or cycling.The Marktplatz or market square in most cities and villages hosts a farmers’ market every week. Remember to carry your own bags when you go shopping as most stores do not provide bags or if they do, they charge for them. It’s a good idea to buy a folding plastic basket or even a wicker basket especially for your shopping trips.
Some of the things expats many notice when shopping in Germany is that only a few grocery stores accept credit cards.
You also have to pay a deposit of one euro for a shopping cart, which will be returned when you return the cart. In many stores, you may have to bag and weigh your fruits and vegetables before going to the checkout counter, and you have to bag all your groceries yourself once you pay. You can return most of the beverage plastic and glass bottles at any supermarket and get back the deposit value.
The Christmas markets in Germany are something many expats look forward to. Shopping at these markets is a unique experience and it’s an ideal place to buy things that are typically German. Hand-made decorations, woodcarvings and traditional candelabras are all available here. You can even get cuckoo clocks and musical instruments, all made with that famous German precision and attention to detail.
Shopping in Berlin
Kufürstendamm or Ku’damm, as it is locally known, is a popular avenue in Berlin. It is a long boulevard consisting of shops and even restaurants and hotels. Here you can shop for designer clothes, home furnishings and gifts. Berlin also has some great flea markets such as Mauerpark, the jumbo sale at Arkonaplatz, where you can find authentic antique items, and the Boxhagener Platz Market, where your bargaining skills will really come into play.
Shopping in Frankfurt
The best shopping area in Frankfurt is the pedestrian zone of the Zeil. The place is full of department stores and specialty stores. There’s also the underground mall at the subway station below the Hauptwache. Goethestrasse is a luxury shopping street with art galleries, jewelry and antique stores, and boutiques. Parallel to Goethestrasse, is another street called Fressgasse, which serves as Frankfurt’s culinary main street. It has restaurants and cafés offering everything from cheeses to chocolates.
Shopping in Munich
Most of Munich’s major department stores are located on Neuhauserstrasse and Kaufingerstrasse, located in the city’s central shopping area from Marienplatz to Karlsplatz Stachus. For more offbeat shopping, try visiting the borough of Schwabing, especially the streets of Schellingstrasse and Hohenzollernstrasse.
Many retailers have an exclusively online presence, while other established companies now have their complete catalogs online. The advantage of online shopping is that it is accessible at any time of the day. Expats can even place orders for goods from home that may not be available in German stores. Online shopping has increased in popularity in Germany, as is the case in many other parts of the world. Retailers make it a point to have easy to navigate websites in English with a variety of options available and secure payment gateways. Some of the popular online food stores among expats include the Expat Express, which offers American foods, beverages and household items; British Corner Shop, a great place to find items one would normally find in one of UK’s many local stores; and Eaishop, which stocks a variety of foods from countries like Australia, New Zealand and Spain.