Wholesalers, retailers, mail-order houses, door-to-door salespersons, department stores, consumer cooperatives, and factory stores all engage in distribution. As of 2002, there were about 630 000 commercial enterprises in Germany, with over than 760 000 local units. Nearly 5 million people were employed in domestic trade, which has a yearly turnover of over one trillion euros.
Chain stores are common with the top ten German retail organizations accounting for almost 80% of total German retail turnover. Convenience shops are a fast growing market outlet in Germany.
The economy is generally described as a "social market economy." The state continues to own some major sections of the economy and provides subsidies for the growth and development of some sectors. However, free enterprise and competition are encouraged. Privatization of public utilities has resulted in greater competition and lower prices. The economy as a whole is primarily export oriented, with nearly one-third of national product exported.
Usual business hours for retail stores are from 9 AM to 6:30 PM on weekdays and from 9 AM to 2 PM on Saturday. Wholesale houses and industrial plants usually have a half day (noon closing) on Saturday. Banks are open Monday–Friday from 8:30 AM to 1 PM and from 2:30 PM to 4 PM (5:30 PM on Thursday).