Frankfurt may be renowned for its financial institutions and trade fair but the city on the Main has some superlative outlets for the discerning shopper as well – whether you’re the wife of a well-paid banker or a traveller looking for a bargain.
The most popular shopping area is the Zeil Fussgängerzone (pedestrian street), beginning at Hauptwache and stretching all the way to Konstablerwache, with the city’s main department stores (Kaufhof and Karstadt) as bookends. There are ample small shops and boutiques with clothes, shoes, leather goods, and plenty of fast-food joints and bakeries to keep anyone busy for at least a day. On its western end, the Zeil changes its name and becomes Freßgasse (the "shovelling alley") with enough cafés, patisseries, ice cream parlours and delicatessens to recharge from any shopping spree.
The pinnacle of high end and haute couture collections exists in the appropriately beautiful Goethestraße, which runs parallel to Freßgasse. Just under 400 meters long, this elegant strip of shops is home to some of the most famous designers in the world, including Versace, Gucci, Prada, and many other a renowned Italian. A refined tree-lined cobblestone path where luxury and elegance know no bounds in the upscale world of Mont Blanc, Tiffany, and Cartier.
In the same area is Schillerstrasse, home to slightly less designer, but nonetheless quality clothing and gift shops. It is also hosts a lovely market every Friday, which is packed with people grabbing a quick lunch, picking up fresh fruit and vegetables or perusing the quirky wares available.
For more funky boutiques, second-hand outlets and hard-to-find items, try Berger Straße, with shops extending from the Merianplatz to Bornheim Mitte U-Bahn stations, or else Leipziger Straße in Bockenheim.
Street markets in Frankfurt can be found on almost any given day in different locations around town. They are predominantly filled with fresh foods and flowers, and few retail items. However, Saturday mornings turn the Mainufer into a large flea market with a huge selection of used items. Tons of clothes, books (with a reasonable selection in English), bicycles, and other bits and baubles are for sale.
For those needing an American style mall, you will be hard pressed to find one, but the Main-Taunus Centrum in Sulzbach boasts being about the closest thing you can find. However, it is not easily accessible by public transportation, and generally has about the same shops you can find on the Zeil, with a treasure or two that one simply won’t come across in the city centre.
Most Frankfurters looking for reprieve from the crowded Zeil have taken to NordWestZentrum, a semi-enclosed shopping area about 5 miles from the centre, which has no major department stores, but plenty of shops, restaurants and a recreation centre and swimming pool that is popular.
Shopping hours in Germany have remained a long-fought battle, but recently the government approved Monday to Saturday shopping until 20:00. Everything remains firmly shut on Sundays, except for the souvenir shops at the Römerberg, and shops at the Hauptbahnhof and airport. Cashing in on their Sunday shopping status, Frankfurt airport (strangely yet officially nicknamed Fraport) is constantly opening, renovating and renewing their shopping choices.
So go forth and save the German economy from ruin, shop away.