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Supermarkets open slower 'chat checkouts’ to combat loneliness among the elderly

Dutch grocery giant Jumbo plans to introduce "Kletskassas" across 200 stores in the country following the success of their first chat checkout.

Supermarkets open slower 'chat checkouts’ to combat loneliness among the elderly
Image Source: Edwin Tan / Getty Images

Jumbo, a large supermarket chain based in the Netherlands, is introducing what they call "Kletskassas," which roughly translates to "chat checkouts." The special checkouts, unlike regular ones, will be slower and geared towards elderly folks in order to combat loneliness. The Dutch country is home to an estimated 1.3 million senior citizens (those who are older than 75 years), and loneliness among the elderly has become a growing concern. The chat checkouts are a result of the government's "One Against Loneliness" program, an initiative to galvanize organizations, towns, companies, and individuals to find solutions for loneliness among senior citizens. The first Kletskassa was opened in Vlijmen in Brabant in the summer of 2019, Good News Network reports.


"Many people, especially the elderly, sometimes feel lonely," shared Colette Cloosterman-van Eerd, CCO of Jumbo and the driving force behind the National Coalition against Loneliness. "As a family business and supermarket chain, we are at the heart of society. Our stores are an important meeting place for many people and we want to play a role in identifying and reducing loneliness. We do this in various ways, including our Kletskassas. We are proud that many of our cashiers like to take a seat behind a Kletskassa. They support the initiative and want to help people to make real contact with them out of genuine interest. It is a small gesture, but very valuable, especially in a world that is digitizing and getting faster and faster."


Given the success of its first Kletskassa, the grocery giant is expanding the program to 200 stores across the country. The stores are selected following a careful process of consideration in order to ensure Jumbo effectively tackles areas most in need. The initiative is expected to reach 200 stores by this time next year. In addition to their chat checkouts, Jumbo has introduced various other means to combat loneliness across their stores. Cloosterman-van Eerd explained, "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."


In the Netherlands, the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport has backed local coalitions against loneliness in each of the 355 municipalities across the country. With the Ministry's support, these coalitions launch programs such as home visits, telephone hotlines, and creating maps outlining activities seniors in certain areas can enjoy. Like the Netherlands, numerous nations across the world have identified loneliness among senior citizens as a serious challenge. Perhaps other state governments can take a leaf out of the Dutch government's book.


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