Wondering how long German shops are open during the week? Or if you can buy groceries (Lebensmittel) on a Sunday? The short answer is "not as long as the USA" and "no". Shopping hours in Germany are among the most restrictive in Europe. Recognize that this is not the and of convenience to avoid the worst of frustration.
However, all is not lost. The long answer and helpful hints on what to expect when you go shopping in Germany follow below.
What to Expect when Grocery Shopping in Germany
Shopping in Germany is usually quite modern. While there are still markets held on old town squares, most people do most of their shopping in major grocery chains. There are many different stores to pick from:
- The Discounters (Lidl, Netto, Aldi) - Most people shop at both the discount and major chains. While discounters have inconsistent inventory that is not displayed as prettily, it usually offers better deals.
- Major Chains (Kaisers, Edeka, Real, Rewe, Kaufland)
- Bio (Organic)
- Turkish, Asian and African Markets
- Weekly and Daily Markets
- Online and Specialty Shops
Opening Hours for Shops, Bakeries, and Banks in Germany
German Department Stores:
Mo-Sat 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
German Supermarkets and Shops:
Mon-Fri 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Sat 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. (smaller supermarkets close between 6 and 8 p.m.)
Shops in smaller towns might shut down for a 1-hour lunch break (usually between noon and 1 p.m.).
Mon - Sat 7:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Sun 7:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Mon - Fri 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.; cash machines are available 24/7
Shopping on Sundays
In general, German shops are closed on Sundays. Exceptions are bakeries, shops at gas stations (open 24/7), or grocery stores in train stations.
In bigger cities like Berlin, look out for little shops called Spätkauf or Späti. Opening hours vary, but they are usually open at least until 11:00 during the week (many much later) and on Sundays.
Another exception is Verkaufsoffener Sonntag (shopping Sundays). This is when larger grocery stores have special opening hours on specific Sundays. These frequently fall before Christmas and in the days leading up to holidays.
Christmas, Easter, Public Holidays in Germany
All shops, supermarkets, and banks are closed on German public holidays such as Easter and Christmas. They are even closed in the days surrounding the holiday, making shopping for basic necessities between Christmas and New Years (Silvester) a special challenge. It is, however, a great excuse to eat out during this festive time as many restaurants remain open, recognizing the potential for profit.
Museums and other attractions have special opening hours, and trains and buses run on a limited schedule.
Check websites before departing and make sure to plan ahead.