German vs American Culture: Jaywalking and Grocery Shopping

Jaywalking in Germany

If you ask any American about jaywalking, they will probably shrug their shoulders and wonder why you are asking. For us, this is a completely normal activity. It's not that we blindly cross an intersection without looking, but if the sign is red and there aren't any cars coming, we just simply cross.  No harm, no foul, right? 😉

If you ask a German about jaywalking, they will probably answer with a very quick and short answer: no.  It's funny, because quite often a lot of Germans know that Americans jaywalk and they don't really approve or understand it.

It took me years to come up with a theory as to why the Germans are so adverse to jaywalking. I think it's basically for two reasons.

  1. Germans walk a lot more than Americans (this includes a lot of young and unsupervised children).
  2. The traffic system in general is very efficient. Basically, the lights change faster (they even have a special yellow light to warn you that the light is about to become green) and everything is so well-timed, that it can sometimes be harder to guess if it's "safe" to jaywalk.  (Okay, as I'm typing this, the first part of the theory is much more solid.)

A crosswalk for pedestrians in Wuppertal, Germany. (image source: Google Maps)

Grocery Store Shopping in Germany

Generally speaking, the grocery stores are smaller in Germany and the aisles are more narrow.  They do have some bigger stores but those tend to be either more expensive or what I consider to be "inconvenient". I say inconvenient because the cheaper "big grocery chains" mostly require you to park in an indoor parking garage that sometimes takes awhile to get in and out of.

But even with the smaller spaces, most shoppers in Germany are friendly. There have been a few occasions where I have felt a bit angry due to someone aggressively jumping the line or people who don't respect personal space the same way that I try to do. But I suppose that really happens everywhere.

Note: I've posted some pictures below of various supermarkets and grocery stores in Germany.

Finally, the other big "shock" for me was the check-out process. First of all, I want to say that I love how fast it is. I can always rely on a speedy cashier and fast checkout process. Another good point about German grocery stores is that customers waiting in line will often invite you to go ahead of them if you only have a couple of items (I love this and try to do it for others, too!).
On the downside, after paying .10 (or so) for a bag or two, you need to bag it yourself. That's right! There aren't any baggers in Germany! So after the speedy cashier nearly throws your food (or at least what feels like throwing) through the checkout line, you either can put seven items or less into a bag very quickly or you need to place the items in the cart so you can bag them after you politely take your leave.
It's faster this way, but sometimes I miss the relaxing experience of an American grocery store. The cashiers in the USA also tend to be a bit slower and more social.


German Grocery Stores Compared to USA
German Grocery Stores Compared to USA
German Grocery Stores Compared to USA

Left: German discount grocery store (image credit:
Top-Right: Inside of a Rewe Superstore: (image credit:
Bottom-Right: Lidl Grocery Store (image credit: Wikipedia Creative Commons)

9 responses on “German vs American Culture: Jaywalking and Grocery Shopping

  1. Janice Mayer

    I guess they don’t have express lanes in Germany, if you only have a few items? There is a chain of small grocery stores in the tri-state area called Aldi’s, and you have to bring your own bags and pack your own groceries. They also do not take credit cards. Sounds a little like Germany.
    Very interesting blog Chris.

    1. Chris Post author

      Thanks, Janice! I really appreciate you commenting and sharing your thoughts here. It’s pretty much the same as it works here. The credit card comment would also be an interesting thing to talk about! I think I will blog about that soon.


      1. cindy

        I went to Aldi’s a couple of weeks ago and I was able to use my debit card. I think that just changed recently, plus it seems there stores are getting nicer

        1. Chris Post author

          I have heard that, too. I want to visit an Aldi the next time I visit the states to compare them to here.

          Thanks for the comment!!

  2. Kaity Olson

    The grocery stores seem to be a lot like also. At least in the aspect of speedy check out where you can buy bags or bring your own and you bag it yourself.

    1. Chris Post author

      Yeah, I have heard that grocery stores in the USA are starting to charge for bags. I don’t remember seeing any of this when I lived there. Is it true for any stores that you know of in Kentucky?


  3. Sascha Nicodem

    Hi Chris,
    I would like to share the view the other way round 😉
    As a german tourist in America I felt very uncomfortable with the baggers. I even felt pity for them, because I just wasn’t used to it. But after a few times I felt the convenience!
    And yes, here in Germany the cashiers more or less throw your stuff aside (esp. in LIDL nad ALDI) that you have to handle them real quick or they will fall on the floor. That’s not acceptable, especially for older/slower people.
    Aaaand, I love your Blog 😉

  4. Chris Post author

    Hi Sascha,

    Thank you for commenting! I can understand that it probably felt a bit weird having a bagger for the first time. I think the jobs are actually decreasing in the USA for baggers. The last few times that I have been home, there seemed to be less and less of them. Maybe the big grocery chains are trying to cut back on spending.
    But I agree. I think at the discount stores such as ALDI and LIDL, they really should slow down a bit (at least for the elderly).


  5. Nicolai pasucha

    Yes. Ist sometimes very fast at the checkout. But when it comes to lidl and aldi… at the end of your shift it’s very common that the manager checks how many items u scanned in a minute. And if u r to slow….. well. Let’s say they really don’t like that!

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