Loneliness has no geographical boundaries and is one of the main issues that affects senior citizens around the world, especially in urban settings where everything is fast paced and increasingly digitized. But a Dutch company came up with an idea to combat this from a very common front: the grocery store checkout. Jumbo, a Netherlands-based supermarket chain with over 700 stores, introduced a Kletskassa, which translates to “chat checkout,” a special lane for customers who are not in a rush and could use a little talk with the cashier.
Jumbo introduced these “slow lanes” back in summer 2019 as part of a wider initiative called One Against Loneliness, launched by the Dutch government. According to Statistics Netherlands, 1.3 million people in the Netherlands are over 75, and 33% have reported feeling at least moderately lonely. The first Kletskassa opened in the town of Vlijmen, in the province of North Brabant. The response was so positive that the company made plans to create 200 of these lanes across the country. On top of that, Jumbo stores also introduced a “chat corner,” where local residents can gather for a cup of coffee and a little conversation.
“Many people, the elderly in particular, can feel lonely. As a family business and supermarket chain we have a central role in society. Our shops are a meeting place and that means we can do something to combat loneliness. The Kletskassa is just one of the things we can do,” said Jumbo CCO Colette Cloosterman-Van Eerd. “We are proud our staff want to work the chat checkout. They really want to help people and make contact with them. It’s a small gesture but it’s a valuable one, particularly in a world that is becoming more digital and faster.”
The best part of the Kletskassa is that it’s not exclusive for senior citizens, and anyone whose day could improve by taking it slow and having a little chat is welcome.