Everyday tips for shopping

Opening hours

In stores opening hours are set by law. On Sundays, Holidays and evenings after 8 p.m. all stores are closed. Exceptions are made for gas stations, kiosks, bakeries, pharmacies as well as train stations and tourist attractions.

In downtown Bochum and in shopping centers like the Uni-Center stores usually open between 8 and 10 o'clock in the mornings and close at 8 o'clock in the evenings. On Saturdays some stores close at 6 o'clock in the evening. Particularly small stores and stores in outlying areas close already at 6:30 p.m. and on Saturdays at 1 or 4 o'clock in the afternoon.

Banks and government offices have much shorter opening hours. Most banks are only open on weekdays and close at 4 o'clock p.m. (except on Thursdays when they are open till 6). Government offices are sometimes only open in the mornings and on one afternoon the week.

The Bürgerbüro (Citizens' Assistance Office) in the Rathaus (City hall) is an exception: it is open Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m. till 6 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays till 1 p.m.

Public holidays

On public holidays most people generally do not work and stores are closed. However as a general rule services such as movie theaters, cafes or restaurants remain open. Students also have no class on these days. Most holidays have religious roots and some are different from state to state.

    public holidays in North Rine-Westphalia: http://www.feiertage.net/frei-tage.php
    public holidays in Germany: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_holidays_in_Germany

Exchange and guarantee

Should you realize after you have purchased your merchandise that the product is faulty or damaged, the size does not fit or that it really is not to your liking, you can generally still exchange it. Remember to keep your receipt because you will need to present it and try to make the exchange within a few days after buying the item.

Many products like electric appliances are required by law to have a 2 year warrantee. If the product is broken or faulty within the first six months after purchase it is assumed that the problem already existed at the time of purchase and the merchant must repair or exchange the product for free.

If the problem doesn't appear until later the customer must prove that the product was faulty at the time of purchase and that the problem didn't develop through normal wear and tear. However many merchants are fair and will repair or exchange the product within the two years after purchase no matter what.

Some merchants or manufacturers provide an even longer guarantee.

A warrantee or exchange is unusual for second hand items – unless otherwise stipulated in the contract.


In Germany you must pay a deposit when you buy many glass, plastic, and metal containers. These containers have the words "Pfand" or "Mehrweg" printed on the label. You get your deposit back when you return the container to the store that you bought it from.

Some examples: a glass bottle of mineral water or a jar of yoghurt costs 0.15 €, a bottle of beer 0.08 € and an empty case 3,- € Euro. These are examples of "Mehrweg" (reusable) containers that are thoroughly cleaned and used again.

There is also a deposit of 0.25 € on many "Einweg" (disposable) containers such as plastic bottles and drink cans.

In the long run you will save a lot of money if you always remember to collect your deposit containers and return them.

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