Wake up with a Smile

Join our newsletter

Grocery Chain Creates “Slow Checkout Line” For Lonely Seniors To Chitchat

Image shows a Jumbo Supermarket ribbon-cutting for a slow checkout lane (chat checkout) with an overlay explaining information about the initiative to decrease loneliness for senior citizens.

Sometimes when you go to the supermarket, you’re in a hurry. You want a quick trip in and out. You grab your stuff and head for the shortest checkout line or self-checkout. But what if you’re older, live alone, and want to chat a bit? With the emphasis on speed that pervades much of our lives, slowing down to chat doesn’t seem like an option. But it is now, at least in some supermarkets, where they have designated a slow checkout lane.

Google translation of the above tweet: Today, Colette Cloosterman-van Eerd opened a new Kletskassa at the Jumbo store in Udenhout. Also the starting signal for the opening of 200 Kletskassas throughout the Netherlands.

The slow checkout lane, or chat checkout, permits older patrons who might be lonely to enjoy a nice chat while paying for groceries. That might be their only interaction with another human for the entire day. It is important for people to feel seen and heard. The concept began before and expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many were self-quarantining and limiting visits with friends and family, which had a profound effect, especially on the elderly.

Image shows a sad older woman.
Image from PxHere.

The Jumbo Supermarket chain in the Netherlands rolled out the first chat checkout during the summer of 2019. The project is part of the Dutch government’s effort to fight loneliness. In addition to the Kletskassa (which translates to chat checkout), Jumbo also has chat corners, and a local foundation manages the community spaces. People can enjoy a coffee and chat with others about almost anything. Some chat locations will also help seniors find assistance with gardening, shopping, or other tasks.

We Might Not Be Ready For Slow Checkout Lanes Everywhere

Colette Cloosterman-van Eerd spearheads the effort in the Netherlands. She is Jumbo’s CCO and works with the National Coalition Against Loneliness. During an interview, she said, “At Jumbo we want to be more than just a place where you do your shopping. For example, we help our stores by means of a manual to signal loneliness among customers and to set up local initiatives. Several stores also have a chat corner where customers can grab a nice cup of coffee and chat with neighbors.”

Image shows two older women enjoying coffee and a chat.
Image from Flickr.

Slow checkout lanes aren’t just for seniors. Anyone who craves a little companionship and isn’t in a hurry is welcome. The concept is spreading worldwide. Many countries are seeing the benefits of slowing down a bit. Scotland first implemented a slow checkout lane at a Tesco Supermarket in Forres to serve shoppers with Alzheimer’s in 2017. Tesco included sensitivity training for employees to work on how they interact with slower customers.

This trend may slowly come to US supermarkets. It is how we used to do things “back in the day.” Expect to see it at some smaller stores with a senior clientele before it hits the mainstream markets. Some may start slow, allowing for slower lines one, two, or three days a week during specific hours. Any improvement that allows us to slow down and smell the roses again will be welcomed by many.

Please share if you enjoyed this look at how some businesses cater to seniors (and others who want to slow down).

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here and here (overlay).

Want to be happier in just 5 minutes a day? Sign up for Morning Smile and join over 455,000+ people who start each day with good news.