In this fast-paced and digitized world, many older adults find it hard to keep up. As a result, they’re often left out or just prefer to stay on the sideline and be mere spectators.
Loneliness is a big issue for seniors around the world as most of them live on their own or in retirement villages.
One of the things they look forward to is grocery shopping, which they can’t do during busy periods for fear of holding up the line at the checkout counters.
Most older people seek a less stressful and more enjoyable shopping experience. As much as possible, they want to shop in comfort and take advantage of the social interaction with other shoppers and store employees. In a way, activities like this give them a prolonged sense of independence.
This is why Jumbo, a big Netherlands-based supermarket chain with over 700 stores, introduced the concept of Kletskassa to its stores.
The term translates to ‘chat checkout,’ a special lane for elderly or senior customers where they can check out their purchases without being rushed and even enjoy an unhurried and regular conversation with the cashier.
In the summer of 2019, ‘slow lanes’ were introduced in Jumbo stores to support the One Against Loneliness initiative of the Dutch government.
The first Kletskassa opened in Vlijmen, a town located in the North Brabant province.
There are 1.3 million people over 75 years old in the Netherlands. And according to Statistics Netherlands, 33% have reported feeling at least moderately lonely.
Aside from the Kletskassa, Jumbo also has a chat corner where residents, not just seniors, can sit together and chat over a cup of coffee.
Colette Cloosterman-Van Eerd, CCO of Jumbo, shared that theirs is a family business and supermarket and has a pivotal role in society.
More than just a place to get groceries, Jumbo supermarkets are also great meeting places, which means Jumbo supermarkets can help combat loneliness.
The Kletskassa is just one of the many things they can do to help alleviate people’s loneliness. Much of the credit goes to Jumbo’s kindhearted staff working the chat checkout counters.
They’re the ones who come face-to-face with elderly customers, strike up a conversation with them, help them with their needs, and make sure they leave the store feeling good.
It may be a surprising addition to a supermarket, but the slow lane isn’t an entirely new concept. In 2019, the regional supermarket chain Maiya Takizawa in Takizawa, Japan, also introduced a relaxed checkout lane for their aging population.
A local private practice physician named Toshiaki Konno came up with the idea and suggested it to Maiya Takizawa’s head of operations.
The slow lane is open every Thursday afternoon for one to two hours, and more than ten volunteers work as shopping assistants to customers who need help with grocery or shopping tasks.
As of 2021, 29.5% of Japan’s population was 65 and older. There are approximately 12.06 million people who are 80 years and older.
The public’s response to the Kletskassa was overwhelmingly positive that Jumbo plans to put 200 more of these slow lanes in their stores all over the country.
In selecting the Jumbo stores, localities with a significant issue of loneliness will be carefully evaluated.
There are 355 municipalities in the country that the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport has helped through hotlines, home visits, and activity directories for the older people in the neighborhood.
As more and more people reach their twilight years, the need for these chat checkouts will only increase. Not everyone is blessed with a family who will be by their side and take care of their daily needs.
Hopefully, more countries with a growing aging population will also adopt this initiative to support seniors and make them feel less alone, isolated, or lonely.