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Dutch Supermarket Starts ‘Slow Checkout Lane’ For Elderly Who Want To Chat

In the Dutch town of Vlijmen is the “Jumbo” supermarket which encourages socialization amongst seniors.

Dutch Jumbo Supermarket
Image credit: Jumbo

All around the world, elderly face the issue of loneliness and even isolation. With the digital age, it is rather difficult for senior citizens to socialize. Luckily, a Dutch business created a Kletskassa, or “chat checkout”, to combat this dilemma.

Dutch grocery chain, Jumbo, targets their development towards customers who are not in a rush and would want to chat with the cashier. Jumbo has about 800 locations in which most offer these “slow lanes”. Chat checkouts were introduced in the summer of 2019 by the Dutch government’s “One Against Loneliness” campaign.

In the Netherlands, there is an estimated 1.3 million individuals over 70 years old, according to “My Modern Net”. Jumbo assures that these elderly won’t spend their years feeling disconnected from others. 33% of these seniors say they feel lonely, according to “Statistics Netherlands”. The first Kletskassa opened in the North Brabant province’s town of Vlijmen.

The cashier makes time for conversation with elderly. Credit: Jumbo

Jumbo’s feedback was positive which motivated the company to establish 200 “slow lanes” across the Netherlands. In addition to these slow lanes, Jumbo chain stores added “chat corners” where customers can grab coffee and converse. The Kletskassa can make anybody’s day just by offering some good company.

The development is supported by Jumbo’s CCO, Colette Cloosterman-van Eerd. Cloosterman-van Eerd developed the National Coalition Against Loneliness. She stated, “Many people, especially the elderly, sometimes feel lonely. As a family business and supermarket chain, we are at the heart of society.”

Cloosterman-van Eerd continued to explain, “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.”

The “Alles voor Mekaar” Foundation is an operation dependent on locals and has become a great success. The foundation’s goal is to establish an environment where elderly may interact with members of the foundation. Elderly people who have expressed feelings of loneliness are connected with volunteers. The volunteers who work for the foundation assist with activities. These activities include gardening and grocery shopping.

Jumbo’s Vlijmen location sponsors the “All Together Coffee Corner” which has contributed to increasing technology. Advanced technological equipment are used in the supermarket industry and has reduced costs. However, technology has also reduced human interaction due to their self-service counters. Since most clients choose to scan their own purchases, their social interaction with others has declined.

The Jumbo Supermarket has fought to combat this trend and fight against isolation and loneliness. Areas across the Netherlands where loneliness is a prominent issue, are studied when selecting store locations. There are 355 municipalities across the nation including the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. Each of them have helped local communities combat loneliness by establishing home visits, hotlines and activities for senior citizens. The Jumbo grocery chain has set an amazing example for how we can continue to support the elderly.

Written By

Student at the University of La Verne majoring in print journalism.

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