Grocery Chain Started A 'Chat Checkout' Lane For Lonely Seniors Who Need A Friend

The dedicated grocery checkout lane is part of the Netherlands' efforts to help fight the isolation that often comes with getting older.

dutch grocery's chat checkout lane for lonely seniors @JumboSupermarkt / Twitter

A Dutch supermarket chain named Jumbo has inspired people the world over with their clever and heart-warming approach to an all too common experience among senior citizens: loneliness and isolation.

As the type of business that everyone needs, whether they're lonely or not, Jumbo decided to dedicate part of its stores to combating the problem in The Netherlands, and it just might be starting a trend in other parts of the world, too.


Dutch chain Jumbo has a dedicated grocery checkout lane for lonely seniors called a 'chat checkout'.

Jumbo is among the largest retail chains in The Netherlands and first began experimenting with its Kletskassas, Dutch for "chat checkout," back in 2021, according to Upworthy

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The "Kletskassas" offers a slower-paced way to pay for your groceries for seniors, or anyone else for that matter, who feel like taking their time and having a chat while they buy their groceries.

Jumbo didn't stop there, however. They also added a "koffiecorner" — which you've probably guessed by now means "coffee corner" — where locals and employees can sit and chat over a cup of coffee for a minute or two.

The changes were such a hit back in 2021 that Jumbo quickly expanded the new initiatives to hundreds of its more than 700 stores throughout The Netherlands.



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The company launched its dedicated checkout lane for lonely seniors to help address The Netherlands' problems with social isolation among the elderly.

The Kletskassas and koffiecorners are the brainchild of Jumbo CCO Colette Cloosterman-van Eerd, who also heads the Netherlands' National Coalition Against Loneliness.

She considers supermarkets to be "at the heart of society" — everyone has to buy groceries, after all — and so she saw Jumbo as having a responsibility to play a vital role in fighting loneliness among the elderly and the Dutch population in general.


In addition to the "chat checkouts" and coffee nooks, Jumbo has also compiled manuals for stores so that staff can spot signs of loneliness among patrons and reach out to local organizations and charities. One such charity, the "Alles voor Mekaar" Foundation which matches lonely seniors up with volunteers and neighbors for social opportunities, has used Jumbo's koffiecorner for meet-ups. 

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Loneliness is a major problem for senior citizens in the US as well and frequently leads to poor health outcomes. 

Jumbo's efforts are more than just a feel-good story. They really might be making a material difference in Dutch seniors' lives. Analysis by the University of Michigan's Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation found that more than one in three elderly adults reports feeling a lack of companionship. That isolation can have major health impacts, increasing a person's risk of premature death even more than smoking or obesity and upping a senior's risk of everything from heart disease to Alzheimer's. 

Thankfully, Jumbo's efforts seem to be catching on elsewhere. Canadian supermarket chain Sobeys recently introduced a similar grocery checkout lane for lonely seniors.


And on social media, many Americans have called upon big retailers like Kroger and Walmart to latch onto the idea instead of constantly replacing cashiers with self-check-outs.

Of course, those of us on the more introverted side of the spectrum hold those self-check-outs near and dear (please never get rid of them, we beg you!). But in these times of increasing social isolation, having a place where seniors — or anyone else, for that matter — can stop and have a chat like back in the day is an idea whose time has definitely come.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.