German Supermarkets: A Practical Guide for Foreigners

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Germany’s supermarkets are not just places to buy food; they’re gateways to understanding the culture, the people, and the rhythm of life here. In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about supermarkets in Germany, from the variety of stores available to practical tips that make your shopping experience smoother and more enjoyable.

Whether you’re looking for the most affordable options for your weekly groceries, seeking organic and health-conscious choices, or craving flavors from home, German supermarkets offer a plethora of options.

Key Takeaways

  • Germany offers a diverse range of supermarkets, from budget-friendly to full-service and organic options.
  • Understanding local supermarket culture, including language and payment methods, enhances the shopping experience.
  • Practical tips like shopping during off-peak hours and understanding store layouts make grocery shopping more efficient.
  • German supermarkets feature unique aspects like in-store bakeries, weekly deals, and regional specialties.
  • Online grocery shopping and delivery services in Germany offer convenience, especially in urban areas.

Types of Supermarkets in Germany

Navigating through the various types of supermarkets in Germany can be both exciting and overwhelming. Each type offers a unique shopping experience, catering to different tastes and budgets. Let’s explore the main categories of supermarkets you’ll encounter in Germany.

Supermarket TypeCharacteristicsExamples
Discount SupermarketsBudget-friendly, basic groceries, no-frills layoutAldi, Lidl, Netto
Full-Service SupermarketsWide product range, additional services like bakeriesREWE, Edeka, Real
Organic and Health Food StoresFocus on organic, local, environmentally-friendly productsBioMarkt, Denn’s
International and Specialty StoresStock international foods and specialty itemsVarious local shops

Discount Supermarkets: Budget-Friendly Options

Aldi, Lidl, and Netto

Germany is renowned for its discount supermarkets, which are perfect for budget-conscious shoppers. Aldi and Lidl, two of the most popular chains, are known for their low prices and efficient shopping experiences.

These stores typically have a no-frills layout, focusing on offering quality products at competitive prices. They carry a range of items, from groceries to occasional non-food specials.

Netto is another key player in the discount market, offering a slightly different assortment but maintaining the focus on affordability. These supermarkets are ideal for your basic grocery needs without breaking the bank.

Full-Service Supermarkets: A Broader Range of Products

REWE, Edeka, and Real

For a more comprehensive shopping experience, full-service supermarkets like REWE and Edeka are the go-to options. They offer a wider range of products, including a larger selection of international foods, fresh produce, and a variety of branded items. These stores often have a more spacious layout and additional services like bakeries and butchers.

Real is another full-service supermarket known for its vast selection and larger store size. These supermarkets are perfect for shoppers looking for more variety and a one-stop shop for all their grocery needs.

Organic and Health Food Stores: Conscious and Quality Choices

BioMarkt and Denn’s

Germany takes pride in its focus on health and sustainability, reflected in the presence of organic and health food stores such as BioMarkt and Denn’s. These stores specialize in organic, locally sourced, and environmentally friendly products.

They are ideal for shoppers who are health-conscious or have specific dietary requirements. The prices might be higher compared to discount stores, but the focus is on quality and ethical sourcing.

International and Specialty Stores: Global Flavors

For those missing the taste of home or keen to explore international cuisines, Germany offers a variety of international and specialty stores. These shops stock a range of products from around the world, catering to diverse culinary preferences and ethnic cuisines. Whether you’re looking for specific spices, international snacks, or specialty ingredients, these stores are treasure troves of global flavors.

Looking to buy electronics in Germany? Check out our guide.

Understanding German Supermarket Culture

Understanding German Supermarket Culture

Embracing Local Shopping Etiquette

The supermarket experience in Germany can be quite distinct from other countries, not just in terms of the variety of stores but also in the shopping culture and practices. Understanding these nuances will not only make your shopping trips more efficient but will also help you blend in with the local way of life.

Language Barrier: Navigating with Confidence

One of the first challenges you might face is the language barrier. While larger supermarkets in cities may have some English-speaking staff, this is not always the case, especially in smaller towns or discount stores.

Familiarizing yourself with some common German phrases for shopping can be immensely helpful. Most products have descriptions in German, so learning the names of basic grocery items can enhance your shopping experience. Additionally, many supermarkets have started to include pictorial signs and multilingual labels, making it easier for non-German speakers to navigate.

Payment Methods: Cash and Beyond

Germany has traditionally been a cash-centric society, and this extends to supermarkets. While card payments are becoming more widespread, it’s always a good idea to have cash on hand, especially in smaller stores or in rural areas.

Contactless and mobile payments are also gaining popularity, offering a quick and convenient way to pay. It’s important to note that some stores may have a minimum purchase amount for card payments.

Recycling and Environment Consciousness: A Commitment to Sustainability

Germany’s commitment to environmental sustainability is evident in its supermarket practices. The Pfand system (bottle deposit) is one such example. When you buy drinks in plastic or glass bottles, you pay a small deposit (Pfand), which is refunded when you return the empty bottle to the store.

Supermarkets often have reverse vending machines where you can return these bottles and collect your deposit. Additionally, bringing your own bags or purchasing reusable bags at the store is encouraged to reduce plastic waste.

Practical Shopping Tips

Practical Shopping Tips

Making Your Grocery Shopping Efficient and Enjoyable

Grocery shopping in Germany can be a delightful experience once you’re familiar with some practical tips. These insights will help you navigate supermarkets with ease, making your shopping trips both efficient and enjoyable.

Peak Hours and Best Times to Shop

Avoiding the Rush: German supermarkets can get quite busy during peak hours, typically weekday evenings and Saturdays. To avoid crowds, consider shopping during mid-morning or early afternoon on weekdays.

Fresh Produce: If you’re looking for the freshest bread, produce, and other perishables, mornings are usually the best time to shop. Many supermarkets restock their shelves overnight or early in the morning.

Navigating the Aisles

Store Layout: Familiarize yourself with the general layout of German supermarkets. Most stores follow a similar pattern, with fresh produce near the entrance, followed by baked goods, dairy, meat, and dry goods. The frozen section and non-food items are usually at the back or sides of the store.

Essential Items: Keep a list of common German names for essential grocery items. This can save time and make your shopping more efficient, especially if you’re still learning the language.

Private Labels and Brands

Cost-Effective Options: Don’t overlook store brands (Eigenmarken) in German supermarkets. These products are often significantly cheaper than well-known brands and are of comparable quality.

Quality and Variety: Full-service supermarkets like REWE and Edeka have their own premium store brands that offer a wide range of high-quality products at reasonable prices.

Seasonal and Regional Products

Local Specialties: Germany offers a wide range of regional products. Look out for these items, as they are often fresher and support local producers.

Seasonal Offerings: German supermarkets strongly emphasize seasonal produce. Shopping seasonally not only ensures freshness but also offers a taste of the local cuisine and traditions.

Special Features of German Supermarkets

Special Features of German Supermarkets

Discovering Unique Aspects of Grocery Shopping in Germany

German supermarkets are not just about buying groceries; they offer unique features that set them apart from supermarkets in other countries. Understanding these special features can make your shopping experience more enjoyable and culturally enriching.

Bakeries and Prepared Foods

In-Store Bakeries: Many German supermarkets, especially full-service stores like REWE and Edeka, have in-store bakeries. These bakeries offer a wide variety of fresh bread, rolls, pretzels, and pastries. The quality is often comparable to that of standalone bakeries, making them a convenient option for fresh baked goods.

Prepared Food Sections: For those looking for quick meal options, many supermarkets have prepared food sections. These sections typically offer a range of freshly made sandwiches, salads, and sometimes even hot meals. They are perfect for a quick lunch or when you don’t feel like cooking.

Discounts and Loyalty Programs

Weekly Deals: German supermarkets frequently have weekly deals or ‘Angebote’ on various products. These deals can offer significant savings, so it’s worth checking the current week’s brochure or the store’s website.

Loyalty Cards: Many chains offer loyalty cards or apps that provide additional discounts, collect points, or offer other benefits. Signing up for these programs can lead to more savings over time.

Unique Products and Finds

Seasonal Specialties: German supermarkets often stock seasonal items, especially around holidays like Christmas and Easter. These products range from special chocolates and cookies to seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Regional Delicacies: Depending on the region of Germany you are in, supermarkets often stock local delicacies and products. This is a great way to explore the culinary diversity of Germany.

International Selection: Larger supermarkets often have an international aisle where you can find products from around the world. This is particularly helpful for expats looking for a taste of home or for those who enjoy cooking international cuisines.

Online Shopping and Delivery Options

Online Shopping and Delivery Options

Embracing Convenience in German Grocery Shopping

In recent years, Germany has seen a significant rise in online grocery shopping and delivery services. This shift offers a convenient alternative for those who prefer shopping from the comfort of their homes or have busy schedules. Let’s explore the online shopping landscape and the delivery options available in Germany.

Overview of Online Grocery Shopping Options

Supermarket Chains Online: Many of Germany’s leading supermarket chains, including REWE and Edeka, offer online shopping platforms. These websites and apps allow you to browse a wide range of products, just as you would in-store, and place orders for home delivery or click-and-collect services.

Specialized Online Retailers: Apart from traditional supermarkets, there are specialized online grocery retailers like Bringmeister or, which focus exclusively on online orders. These platforms often have a broader range of products, including hard-to-find items.

Delivery Services and How They Work

Home Delivery: When you shop online, you can usually choose a delivery slot that fits your schedule. Deliveries are often made within a specific time window, ensuring that you receive your groceries when it’s most convenient for you.

Click-and-Collect Services: For those who prefer to pick up their groceries themselves, many supermarkets offer a click-and-collect service. You can place your order online and pick it up at a designated time from the store or a specific collection point.

Popular Apps and Platforms: In addition to supermarket websites, there are apps like Gorillas and Flink that offer rapid delivery services, often promising to deliver groceries in as little as 10 to 30 minutes. These services are particularly popular in larger cities.

Accessibility and Coverage

Urban vs. Rural Areas: Online grocery shopping and delivery services are more prevalent in urban areas. In rural areas, the availability of these services may be limited, so it’s advisable to check the coverage in your specific location.

Language Options: Most online grocery platforms and apps offer English language options, making them accessible to non-German speakers.


Peter, our exceptional Lifestyle Coordinator. A native of Munich, Peter is the heartbeat of our lifestyle content, offering a rich tapestry of insights into German life’s everyday and extraordinary aspects.

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