Dutch Supermarket Chain Opens ‘Chat Registers’ for Elderly and Lonely Customers

A Dutch supermarket chain will introduce 200 “chat registers” where customers can slow down and have a chat during checkout — an initiative that aims to combat loneliness, especially among the country’s elderly population.

Dutch supermarket chain, Jumbo, will introduce 200 “chat registers” in its stores so that customers will be able to have a conversation while checking out in the otherwise digitized shopping experience. The initiative is meant to combat loneliness, especially among the country’s elderly population. 

According to government organization Statistics Netherlands, 26 percent of those older than 15 feel at least some sort of loneliness, while the rate rises to 33 percent for those over 75.

Jumbo piloted the first chat register (“kletskassa” in Dutch) in 2019 and received positive feedback. The decision to implement them permanently is part of the government-sponsored “One Against Loneliness” program, which looks to alleviate feelings of loneliness in the country — even establishing a 24-hour hotline for those wishing to speak to someone.

“The Kletskassa is a checkout especially for people who are not in a hurry and feel like having a chat,” a Jumbo representative wrote in an email to Motherboard. “Many people, especially the elderly, sometimes feel lonely. It’s a small gesture, but a very valuable one, especially in a world that is digitizing and getting faster and faster.” 

Jumbo said it will “carefully consider areas where loneliness is a major issue” as it picks locations for the chat registers across the Netherlands and Belgium. The company will also open some “cozy chat corners,” where customers can have a cup of coffee and converse with one another.

Large supermarkets in the Netherlands and Belgium have become increasingly digitized over the last decade with everything from self-checkout to facial recognition surveillance cameras. So, the chat registers will provide a human touch to those that need it.

Image source: Jumbo