Cultural Comparisons 2

Daily Life in the USA vs. GermanyPart 2

History & Culture > Cultural Comparisons 1 > Cultural Comparisons 2

In the charts below you’ll find a simplified comparison of various customs and everyday culture in the United States and Germany (Deutschland). For more details, click on any linked topic. See the bottom of this page for a complete list of topics.

shopping Blumen

A flower shop in Berlin. Don’t assume they’ll take a credit card. Ask first.
PHOTO: Hyde Flippo

Cultural Differences between the USA and Germany
(3) Shopping
SHOPPING | See Shopping in Germany for more
Credit card acceptance is almost universal. Credit card acceptance is much more limited, even in restaurants.
Bank debit cards and autopay are gradually replacing personal checks. The EC bank card is used universally in Germany; no personal checks.
0-10.75% sales tax is added to the price of your purchase, depending on the state, county, city. Sales price always includes 19% VAT (sales tax, 20% in Austria, 7.6% in Switzerland). Lower tax rate for groceries.
24/7 shopping – nights and Sundays Shopping hours are much more limited; no shopping on Sunday.
Good customer service is expected. Returns are usually accepted for any reason. Customer service can be poor. Returns are allowed only for a defective product.
Most businesses have a toll-free number. Few businesses have a toll-free number. You have to pay 14 euro cents a minute to call them!
Specialty shops are a dying breed. Big-box discount stores are prevalent. There are discount stores, but specialty shops are more common, offering expertise not found in discount stores.
Shopping is mostly in large malls and super stores. Downtowns offer few shopping opportunities. Although there are shopping malls, German town and city centers are still lively places offering retail shopping.
Grocery Shopping – Comparison chart soon

In the next section below, we compare how the two cultures deal with alcohol and drinking laws.

Cultural Differences between the USA and Germany
(4) Beer and Wine | Alcohol | Drinking Laws
ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES See the Beer and Wine page for more
Drinking age is 21. Drinking age is 18 (16 for beer and wine). > More…
McDonald’s does not serve beer or wine. McDonald’s serves beer in Germany, wine in France.
Bars tend to be dark, hidden places. No children allowed. Pubs are open and light; children allowed with parents.
US Budweiser is considered a real beer. Czech Budweiser is considered a real beer.
Very few beer brands are brewed according to the German Reinheitsgebot (beer purity law). Beer is brewed according to the German Reinheitsgebot.
Beer with lunch at work is not generally considered acceptable. Blue collar workers have beer with lunch (written into their contract).
Better Beer: With the advent of microbreweries in the US and more discriminating beer tastes by Americans, the differences between the US and Germany have grown much smaller.
Binge drinking by young people is a problem. Binge drinking (Komasaufen) by young people is also a problem.
Good wines, even local ones, are expensive. Good wines (from Germany, France, Spain, Latin America, etc.) are reasonably priced.
NEW: Free PDF Downloads of these charts!
CHRISTMAS CUSTOMS > Christmas in the USA and Germany (Cultural Comparision Chart)

Next | Cultural Comparisons – Part 3

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Next | Cultural Comparisons – Part 3

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