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South Africans in Germany

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Shopping in Germany can be a daunting experience if you are not familiar with how things work here.

The worst is probably grocery shopping. In South Africa there is usually someone at the till that bags your groceries for you. It is mostly a relaxed experience and you can even pay some of your utility bills at the till.

In Germany there is no grocery packers and the workers at the till are extremely fast and efficient. So much that you do not even have time to pack in your own groceries. And don’t even dare to ask for a plastic bag!  The best is to take your own re-usable bags with you, and pack your items into the trolley so that you can bag them at your leisure.
Payment options have changed since the Corona epidemic, and more stores are accepting cash cards and mobile payments. Credit cards are still not accepted at all stores.

Shops like Rewe now have self help tills where you scan your own items and pay.  It works with the weight of your items that you have to unpack before scanning so it is suited when you have only a few items.

Another difference to shopping in SA is the personal service you get in some stores, especially clothes or speciality shops.
Often you will get a salesperson asking if they can help you, and if you do need help they will make a great effort to give the correct advice.
Some clothing stores will help you with your wardrobe or give advice on what to wear to a specific event.

In some shoe shops, the attendant will ask if want to keep the box (die Schachtel).  The next question will then be if you need a bag or have a bag (die Einkaufstüte or just Tüte). If you brought your own you can just answer “ja ich habe eine dabei danke”

Something you should never do is make use of the advice in a shop and then go buy the item online. This is not fair to the salesperson.

Additional information

  • Here is a list of shops that are similar to the ones we know in South Africa
  • To find substitutes for general items, have a look here
  • We have a dedicated section for food substitutes

Some helpful phrases/Terms:

  • No thank you, I am just looking – Nein danke, ich schaue mich nur um.
  • Where are the changing rooms – Wo sind die Umkleidekabinen?
  • Can I try it on? – Kann ich es anprobieren?
  • I’ll take it – Ich nehme es
  • How much does it cost? – Wieviel kostet es?
  • Do you need a bag? – Brauchen Sie eine Tüte?
  • Do you want a receipt? – Möchten Sie einen Beleg?
  • Special offer –  das Sonderangebot
  • Sale – der Ausverkauf
  • Shopping basket – der Einkaufskorb
  • Shopping trolley – der Einkaufswagen
  • to pay – bezahlen
  • Bakery – die Bäckerei
  • Department store – das Kaufhaus
  • Sweet Shop – der Süßwarenladen
  • Butcher – die Fleischerei oder die Metzgerei
  • Chemist – die Aphoteke
  • Supermarket – der Supermarkt
  • Till or checkout- die Kasse
  • The price – der Preis
  • Bag – die Tasche

For more have a look on this page