Loneliness is one of the biggest challenges facing older people around the world, especially in urban environments where everything is fast-moving and increasingly digital. That's why a Dutch company has come up with a very common front to fight this: grocery store checkouts. Jumbo, a Dutch supermarket chain with more than 700 stores, has launched Kletskassa, which translates to 'chat checkout', a special lane for shoppers to take their time and chat a little with the cashier.
Jumbo introduced these "slow lanes" back in the summer of 2019 as part of a broader initiative called One Against Loneliness launched by the Dutch government. According to Statistics Netherlands, 1.3 million people in the Netherlands are over 75 years old and 33% say they feel at least moderately lonely. The first Kletskassa was opened in Vleimen in the province of Noord-Brabant. The response was so positive that the company planned to create 200 such strips across the country. In addition, a “chat corner” has sprung up in jumbo stores where locals can meet and chat over a cup of coffee.
“Many people, especially older people, can feel lonely. As a family business and supermarket chain, we play a central role in society. Our stores are a meeting place so that we can do something against loneliness. Kletskassa is just one of the things we can do,” said Colette Kloosterman-Van Erd, CEO of Jumbo. “We are proud that our employees want to work in chat. They really want to help and connect with people. It's a small gesture, but it's valuable, especially in a world that's becoming more digital and faster."
The best thing about Kletskassa is that it's not just for seniors, and anyone who can make their day better by taking their time and chatting a bit is welcome.