Chatting your way through checkout


Jumbo, a supermarket chain in the Netherlands, provides slower lanes, known as Kletskassas, or “chat checkouts”, in which customers are encouraged to engage in a friendly conversation with the person behind the cashier. The main idea is to combat loneliness and depression, especially of the elderly population.


In our fast-paced lives, most people seem to be in a rush all the time, always trying to get things done as quickly as possible. A trip to the supermarket is no exception. In fact, most customers aim to get their groceries in the blink of an eye – and may become impatient if they have to wait long at checkout.

With a contrasting mindset, and warmly embracing a slow-living attitude, a supermarket chain in the Netherlands decided to open a Kletskassa, or “chat checkout”, in Vlijmen (in North Brabant), back in 2019. The idea was to provide a slower, stress-free lane, in which customers are encouraged to engage in a friendly conversation with the person behind the cashier.

This chat-inviting lane aimed, in particular, to combat loneliness. The Kletskassa was so successful that, in September 2021, Jumbo decided to spread the idea nationwide – and pledged to open 200 such lanes, targeting areas particularly affected by loneliness.

Certainly not for the rushed crowds, this compassionate initiative could have a considerable impact in people’s lives. As a matter of fact, many elderly people feel rather lonely and isolated, and sometimes go to the supermarket just to see – and hopefully talk to – other people.

Jumbo supermarkets are slowing down and checking in with their customers as they’re checking out.

Loneliness can have devastating consequences, not only psychologically, but also neurologically.

In fact, neural imaging studies have discovered an inverse correlation between loneliness and compassion/empathy. It turns out that loneliness can be rather damaging at the cellular level, actually inducing considerable changes in brain structure and function. Lonely people tend to have reduced gray matter density in certain brain regions associated with compassion and empathy, as well as less connectivity between them.

In other words, people who experience loneliness may tend to feel less compassionate towards themselves and others.

By offering a “chat checkout” lane, Jumbo supermarkets are not only playing an important role in the fight against mental disorders such as depression, but also building a more compassionate society.

Definitely, quite a thoughtful way to check in with the customers before they check out.

May more “chat checkout” lanes open up worldwide!

This story was originally published by unilad.


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