At the Dutch Jumbo Supermarket in Vlijmen they help fight loneliness amongst the elderly with a Chatter Checkout and special Coffee Corner.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on December 9, 2022. It has since been updated.
One of the primary problems that older people face globally is loneliness, especially in urban areas where life is hectic and becoming more and more digital. In order to combat this from a very common front—the grocery store checkout—a Dutch business came up with an idea. A Kletskassa, or "chat checkout," was created by Jumbo, a Dutch grocery chain with over 700 locations, for customers who are not in a rush and would want to converse with the cashier. In the Netherlands, there are 1.3 million individuals over 75, and a sizable grocery chain is making sure they don't spend their golden years feeling lonely, according to My Modern Met.
These "slow lanes" were first introduced by Jumbo in the summer of 2019 as a part of the Dutch government's One Against Loneliness campaign. There are 1.3 million adults over 75 in the Netherlands, and 33% of them say they feel at least moderately lonely, according to Statistics Netherlands. In the North Brabant province's town of Vlijmen, the first Kletskassa opened for business. The feedback was so encouraging that the business decided to build 200 of these lanes across the nation. Additionally, Jumbo stores added a "chat corner" where locals might congregate for a cup of coffee and some small talk. The best thing about the Kletskassa is that anyone whose day could be made better by taking it easy and chatting for a while is welcome.
The initiative is heavily supported by Colette Cloosterman-van Eerd, CCO of Jumbo and the brains behind the National Coalition Against Loneliness. She says, “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 explained that “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." Dutch Minister Hugo de Jonge and 94-year-old Christien Smits gave the All Together Coffee Corner, its official opening.
The "Alles voor Mekaar" Foundation, which is entirely dependent on local volunteers, has been operating for one year and has been a major success. The aim is to establish a gathering place where older people may interact with residents and volunteers of the foundation. They connect elderly people who are alone with volunteers. The volunteers assist with gardening and grocery shopping. The Jumbo in Vlijmen, which gladly sponsors the All Together Coffee Corner wished to make a constructive contribution. Increasing amounts of technology are being used in the grocery industry, with the goal of reducing costs and encouraging self-service by customers. We have less and less human interaction as clients scan their own purchases and then pay at a self-service counter. As a result, the Jumbo Supermarket really opposes this trend and includes specifically the fight against loneliness.
Love this. "Chat desks are especially for people who are not in a hurry and who like to have a chat during the checkout. With this concept, Jumbo wants to contribute to reducing and preventing loneliness in the Netherlands." https://t.co/W6HjYYbhwT— Bryan Roberts (@BryanRoberts72) September 27, 2021
Customers reacted well to this, and Jumbo is now expanding the idea. By this time next year, 200 locations across the nation will have chat checkouts where customers can engage in dialogue. Areas, where loneliness is a significant issue, are carefully studied when selecting the stores. In each of the 355 municipalities around the nation, the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport has helped local coalitions fight loneliness by setting up initiatives including home visits, hotlines, and activity directories for seniors in the neighborhood. Hopefully, many more nations throughout the world will adopt the Dutch national initiative to support elderly people.