Whether you like it or not, shopping is an inevitable part of our existence. However, it seems as an expat shopping can become quite daunting. So where do you go to get necessities, items from home and generally hard to find items?
Most shopping is traditionally done in downtown areas - like Bonn center or Bad Godesburg center.
Shop opening hours are generally 9:00 to 18:00, though many open later - from 9:30 or 10:00. Most supermarkets are open until 22:00 from Monday to Saturday..
On Saturdays, shops are generally open from 9:00 until 16:00 though many in the smaller towns and villages do close as early as 12:00. Shopping hours have recently become more flexible; many larger shops are now open until 18:00, 20:00 or even 22:00 on Saturdays.
On Sundays, generally shops are closed, but in emergencies you can find a few essentials (milk, butter, bread, wine!) in petrol/gas stations, or you can find grocery stores in train stations or the airport. Some bakeries, flower shops and kiosks are open on Sunday mornings as well. There are a few Sundays every year where shops in the center of town will be open. You will see these advertised as 'Verkaufer Sonntag'.
In Linz (25km south of Bonn) all manner of shops are open in the old city on Sundays.
An important point to note is that many stores especially smaller stores and some supermarkets do not accept regular credit (or debit) cards from companies such as Visa, US, Canada Express or MasterCard. You will need to use an EC card or cash. Larger stores however generally accept credit cards.
Keep a stock of carrier shopping bags with you, as these are not free in most stores, especially supermarkets! Also, always have a 1 Euro coin with you to use in the supermarket trolleys / shopping carts. Many stores will give you a plastic chip which can be used in place of the coin.
If you are frustrated with your German shopping experience, try looking at this humorous take on it.
Many shops have a system of a 'Kundenkarte' where customers can collect points. There is also the Payback system which is a large group of shops.
Shopping malls like in the US are quite rare, however, there are a few.
There is a new mall and shopping area with a Globetrotter, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream and a bagel shop. Park at Parkhaus at Wolfsstraße 6 - 14
On Carl Zeiss Strasse, beside the B9 at Koblenz (just after the exit marked to the 48 Trier road) is a large retail park containing amongst other shops, ToysRUs, Media Markt, a large sports shop, Staples and a Burger King.