Monday, March 5, 2012

Mix-Up Monday: Shopping Bags and Checkers

We have so much to say about the grocery store that we had to make a third entry (if you haven't read our first two entries you can learn about the differences in shopping carts and checkout).

Grocery bags:

As we mentioned in our previous Monday Mix-Up, when you checkout at an American supermarket someone bags your groceries for you. This person used to ask each time if you wanted paper or plastic, as in paper bags or plastic bags. As far as she can remember, nowadays they do not ask and you just get plastic. This does not mean paper bags do not still exist. If you ask, most stores still will bag your groceries with paper bags.

In Germany, you can get plastic bags but it is not something that is automatic (since they are not even bagging for you) and it is not free. Each bag costs between five and ten Euro-cents depending on the size. If you do not want to pay for bags you can bring your own reusable bags.  This is starting to become a trend in the USA too. Some cities (SF, DC) have started to charge for grocery bags and other stores (such as Safeway in California) give you a small discount if you bring your own reusable bags. We both think it is a good idea and although it took her some time to get used to, we always bring our own bags shopping now. This saves us money, the store money (which gets passed on to the consumer we assume...) and it must be good for the environment.
Reusable bags are also usually sturdier than normal American plastic bags. It isn't too rate for her to see a bag boy double bag items in the USA because he is afraid it might be too heavy/cold/etc.

Now if only you could get the best of both worlds...a bag boy who used reusable bags!


Checkers in the USA and Germany are for the most part pretty similar. They scan your food, take your money, and wish you a nice day. Overall, the checkers in the USA might be a little bit more friendly (or pretend to be friendly) but there is always the occasional unfriendly checker in the USA and super friendly checker in Germany. Of course, one difference is in Germany, checkers are not expected to bag your groceries, but we talked about that last week.

Germany (
The big difference between checkers in the USA and Germany is whether they sit or stand while working. In Germany, checkers always sit. It isn't very noticeable, but the belt is a bit lower in Germany and when waiting to checkout there is definitely a difference in height between the customer and checker. In the USA the checker always (or almost always but she cannot think of one store where the checker sits right now) stands. We are not very sure why this is, perhaps it is because the USA puts such an emphasis on customer service and the think the checker should be at eye level with the customer. Another possible reason is because when there is no bag boy the checker must bag, something that would be hard if he or she was sitting. Whatever the reason is, we are sure it is much more relaxing to be a checker in Germany where you do not have to stay on your feet all day.

We think that is enough about grocery stores for now but we do not promise that we will be able to resist returning to the topic in the future!

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