In recent years, Berlin has been labeled the new capital of cool when it comes to fashion and design. Berlin offers an amazing breadth of shopping opportunities for all budgets, tastes and styles. From the top-end fashion heavyweights such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton, through to mass-market mainstream chains such as H&M and Zara.
The best places to find young, innovative designers are in Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, and Hackescher Mart (all in the former East). Charlottenburg, however, is where you will find beautiful, modern homewares and top-end international designers. If you are looking for funky streetwear or vintage items, your best bet will be Kreuzberg or Prenzlauer Berg.
While Germans love to shop, they don’t like personal debt – especially compared to other countries such as Britain, America and Australia, so rather than credit, Germans prefer cash – it’s safe, tangible and immediate. As a result in Berlin, you will find a massive cash culture. In restaurants, supermarkets and most stores, your plastic will be useless.
Most larger stores open from 9 AM to about 8 PM. Supermarkets open as early as 7 AM or 8 AM; bakeries (Bäckereien) open even early, usually 6 AM. The larger businesses close around 8 PM, but many small businesses close as early as 6 PM, and almost all businesses are closed on Sundays (except for large businesses) and during state-sanctioned times of the year (normally on long holiday weekends, and the four Advent Sundays except when the last Sunday is Christmas Eve).
Generally, prices are reasonable and twice a year Berlin’s stores go on sale (January and July) providing the perfect opportunity to pick up pieces at great prices.
Gas stations (Tankstellen) outside of the city center can have quite large convenience stores attached, although prices can be a bit steep. Some are open 24 hours, but during the night you may have to order what you want through the window. DVD rental stores and Internet cafes sell snacks and drinks, again at pretty steep prices; but, they tend to be open later than the shops.