filled shopping bag

German Supermarkets

Important things to know when buying groceries in Germany

If you're new to Germany, you'll soon discover that most local grocery stores have an impressive array of foreign and local goods. But before you start making your way through the supermarket aisles, this helpful guide will tell you everything you need to know about grocery shopping at a German supermarket.

Grocery shopping in Germany

Supermarkets in Germany can be quite unique!

Supermarkets in Germany will probably be different from the supermarket you are used to at home. Don't let this deter you. Your local supermarket will often have regional products that are worth trying!

If you are more into international products or looking for a gourmet temple, you should go to the big supermarkets or visit some international supermarkets.

Do you prefer to order from home and have your groceries delivered? No problem! There are grocery shops in the country that offer delivery services as well. Pick your goods from the comfort of your couch using their online service and you'll get them delivered to your door without any effort.

Providers like “Hello Fresh”, for example, offer ready-made packages of the fresh food you'll need to make your meals. You can sign up for a membership and create your menu from hundreds of recipes every day. You will receive ready-made packages with already weighed quantities of the necessary food for your selected recipe. Quickly mix the ingredients together and your meal is ready!

If you don't want to cook for yourself, you'll find a number of restaurants, cafés and snack bars throughout Germany, as well as a variety of takeaway options.

Explore a new culinary world and don't be afraid to try new things at your local market.

Supermarket in Berlin Germany

Buy groceries like a local: Supermarkets in Germany

Almost every town has local small supermarkets and a weekly market. In big cities, of course, you will find the whole variety of grocers - from Späti (they are open until late at night and offer mainly drinks, alcohol and snacks) to wholesalers, everything is there.

In smaller towns, you easily can find the best supermarket for you. The differences between grocers in Germany are mostly in the price and the selection of products.

For many expats, the best part about grocery shopping in Germany is the pricing. German discount grocery stores are usually cheaper than those in neighboring countries. That's why many residents from Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands cross the border to do their weekly shopping. However, like most European countries, the selection in Germany may not be as wide as you're used to. This is especially true if you're coming from the United States and bought your products from American grocery stores. But once you get acclimated, you'll soon find everything you need.

German grocery stores offer a good selection of groceries, meats, dairy products and vegetarian foods. Many also have a bakery in the store - usually a popular place for expatriates. You will be amazed at how many types of bread, cakes and pastries your local grocery store offers.

German bread, in particular, is worth a taste. There is hardly any nationality that produces so many different types of bread. There is something for every taste!

smiling woman in grocery store

Overview of main supermarkets in Germany

For many Americans, the German food scene offers a welcome change. In Germany, offerings range from fresh milk and fresh eggs straight from the farm, to offers in modern and large grocery store chains.

Those who prefer fresh produce can buy fresh fruit or meat and fish at the weekly market, while those who prefer to shop online from home without pushing the shopping carts, can use the delivery service of some chain stores or delivery apps, like Gorillas, and get the food they selected online delivered right to their doorstep.

However, most Germans shop quite normally in supermarkets like Aldi oder Lidl. While the quantities and products often differ from American ones, the principle is similar.

Below is an overview of some of the typical grocery stores in Germany and what you can expect from each of them.

Discount grocery stores

Discounters like Lidl, Netto, Aldi and others cover the basic everyday needs of customers. This is where most Germans shop on average.

In the discounter you can often find offers at the lowest prices, which reduce the costs of living in Germany.

There is a basic selection of fruit and veggies, a self-service store for bread and baked goods, and a decent range of cold cuts, dairy products, baked goods, canned goods and more.

Often, customer service leaves much to be desired. At peak times, discount stores are frequently very crowded and have long lines formed in front of the cash registers.

Shopping at a discount store may be easy on your wallet, but it often a little more time consuming. If you have special products or brand needs, you should shop at a large grocery store.

Aldi supermarket Germany

Large grocery stores

Large grocery stores like Real, Rewe, Edeka and Kaufland offer a wide variety of products. Everyone can actually find what they want there.

These grocery chains are most similar to stores in the US or UK. They are usually large and have almost everything you need. The products are also of really good standard. Some chains, like Real, sell different categories like groceries, housewares, electronics, toys, clothes and even bicycles. If you can't find something on the shelf, ask for help. You can expect that larger stores in the country usually have everything in stock.

The selection in such stores is very extensive, but the products are often more expensive than at discount stores. You are likely to find everything you need in the big grocery stores - although the search may take some time. On the other hand, because of their size, these stores are less likely to be crowded. Unless it's the day before a holiday, because then every grocery store in Germany will be full.

searching for groceries

Cosmetic stores

Suppliers such as DM and Rossmann mainly offer hygiene products, detergents and everything for body care. But you can also find baby food, diapers and organic products here. The selection is larger than in normal supermarkets. In every town in Germany, you can find a DM or Rossmann.

Rossmann drugstore

Speciality stores in Germany

Turkish, Asian and African markets

There are a lot of small supermarkets in Germany where you can buy international foods. They offer a large variety of products and brands from different nations.

There are Turkish, Asian, Russian or African supermarkets where you can immerse yourself in the eating habits of different nationalities as you please.

Whether it is good meat, tortilla, different types of cheese, pirogi or mie noodles, all taste buds will be challenged in these stores. Fresh fruits, organic produce and vegetables can also be bought there.

Family dinner

Online & Specialties

Even though you can find most things in Germany, you can't find everything. Far from home, there are always products that are especially missed.

Hot dogs, popular in the U.S., become Bratwurst in Germany, and Mexican food is not as widely represented in the country as it is in America. Nevertheless, there are exceptional stores that sell Latin American products and brands.

If you are in Berlin, you should definitely visit the KaDeWe. The “Kaufhaus des Westens” is located in the middle of Berlin and offers extraordinary goods with very good quality - which often comes at a cost. However, the gourmet department on the 6th floor leaves nothing to be desired. Often, you can get hold of a sample before you grab the new brand you like to eat.

Don't worry, if you don't want to spend that much money but still expect full flavor, you can simply shop in the gourmet section that is available in many large grocery stores.

grilled sausages on wooden board

German markets

For many expats and students coming to Germany, the dream of grocery shopping doesn't revolve around the supermarket aisles, but rather the stalls at the local food market. All cities have a weekly fair where you can get fresh fruit, baked goods, honey, milk, eggs, fish and meat. At many weekly markets you can drink coffee and chat at a stall or enjoy a hot meal at a food truck. Almost everywhere there are free samples. Do not miss to try your way through!

Vegetable market in Esslingen

Beverage stores in Germany

In Germany, there are extra beverage retailers where you can find any kind of drink you want. From several types of water, juices, soft drinks to alcohol, everything is there. You should also try the famous German beer. Conveniently, you can hand in your empties/deposit immediately and have the total amount charged at the end of your purchase. If the beverage markets are already closed, but you still want to have an after-work beer in the park, there is also a selection of drinks in the Späti.

Späti selection in Germany

    Things you need to know about German supermarkets

    Deposit (Pfand)

    The deposit concept is unfamiliar to many non-natives. Deposits (Pfand) are empty bottles that used to just end up in the trash or on the streets and next to the trash can. In Germany, you can collect the bottles and deposit them in special vending machines. These machines can be found, for example, in discount stores or large grocery stores. You receive a cent amount for each bottle you hand in (for example, 25 cents for plastic bottles, 15 cents for glass bottles) and a receipt with the total. You can have the total deducted from your amount at the checkout at the end of your shopping trip. This way you save money and prevent pollution of the environment.

    Checking out

    Another major hurdle you will inevitably have to overcome at the grocery store is checking out. Unlike in the U.S., where you barely have to lift a finger because the cashier and bagger do all the heavy lifting, you'll be sweating it out at the register yourself.

    Bring your own fabric bags! Otherwise, you will have to buy bags. Since plastic bags are no longer sold in Germany, you will need to select a paper or cloth bag at the checkout if you cannot stow your purchases otherwise.

    You always load the assembly line yourself. Don't be surprised if the person behind you in line gets too close to you or gets impatient if you are moving too slowly. Once you're on the line, the “race” with the cashier begins. In the best-case scenario, you can bag your goods at the same speed that the cashier is checking out.

    Don't get stressed out and don't pay attention to the sometimes harsh tone of voice.


    Fellow customers & Customer service

    The tone in Germany can be a bit rougher than in America. This does not only apply to customer service. Don't take it personally! Strangers rarely greet each other and when it comes to the last product on the shelf, the fight for it can be fierce.

    By the way, employees assume you'll get out of the way while they stock the shelves. But don't worry, if you need help, you'll get it.

    Store hours

    Generally, German grocery stores have their business hours from 7:00 am - 8:00 pm on weekdays. On Saturdays, there are often limited opening hours and on Sundays, most stores are completely closed. Plan for this when you do your weekly shopping.

    Only since 2006 have the restrictions on opening hours been relaxed, so if you're lucky you can shop until 12:00 on Sunday in supermarket chains like Edeka or Netto. However, this varies from region to region.

    In small towns, opening hours in local stores are often even shorter. In large cities, German supermarket chains like Rewe or Edeka may sometimes be open until midnight.

    In large cities, there is often a small local supermarket called Späti. They are open late at night and offer mainly alcohol, beer, snacks and a very limited range of basic items. However, you should not look for fresh products there.

    A special invention is the Verkaufsoffene Sonntag (“Open Sunday”), where large stores and shopping centers are open and provide many offers. Often it is the first Sunday of the month, but this event does not happen every month. Most supermarkets, clothing stores and shoe stores in town are also open then.

    Top 10 German supermarkets

    The top 10 best food retailers in Germany are characterized by their product variety and freshness. From vegan and vegetarian products to everyday basics, you can find it all here. In addition, you can benefit from many daily offers, low prices and save money. The most popular choice for locals in Germany is to go to a supermarket like Rewe or a discount supermarket like Aldi or Lidl.

    1. Kaufland
    2. Lidl
    3. Aldi Süd
    4. Real
    5. Edeka
    6. Penny
    7. Netto
    8. Norma
    9. Aldi Nord
    10. Rewe

    Which supermarkets deliver in Germany?

    If you don't want to go shopping, you can also order food and drinks from the comfort of your own home. You have an online shopping cart that you can fill with selected products. Your purchase will then be delivered to your door.

    Suppliers such as Rewe, Lidl or Bofrost have delivery services and deliver everything your heart desires, from groceries to ready meals. There are also delivery apps like Gorillas or Flink, with which you can get your groceries in the shortest possible time.

    If you don't like cooking, you can order some food at

    Deliveries from Supermarkets in Germany

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    Which supermarket is the best in terms of services?

    Service is not written in capital letters in regular supermarkets like Aldi or Kaufland, but if you need help, you get it. For personal advice and service, specialty stores like KaDeWe are the place to go. But customer service is also more personal at the market or in small private stores.

    Which supermarket is the best in terms of quality?

    You will find the best quality at suppliers such as Rewe, Kaufland or Real. The wholesalers have both premium products at somewhat high prices, as well as private brands such as “Ja!” from Rewe, at low cost. The products are always fresh, the shelves are well stocked, the aisles not crowded and there are also special foods such as vegan or gluten-free food.

    Which supermarket is the best in terms of prices?

    The best pricing can be found in discount stores such as Aldi or Lidl. The price-performance ratio is pretty good, the products are mostly fresh and you can find everything you need for everyday life there. There are often special offers at particularly low prices. However, not all products are always in stock - if something is empty, you may have to wait for the next delivery.

    Which supermarkets deliver in Germany?

    Some of the German supermarkets offer delivery services. You decided that you want to do some cooking, but forgot to buy ingredients? Choose your products online at Rewe or Lidl, for example, and your groceries will be delivered soon.