We’ve all been there, you are standing in a line holding a huge package at the post office or a few groceries that you need, and the kind elderly person is chatting away to the clerk-and you just want to get out of there…
But, remember this before you lose your mind…That moment of contact with post office staff may be the only person-to-person contact that an elderly person is able to receive in a day, and globally surveys suggest that one in three seniors experience loneliness or a lack of contact with other people.
A few years ago, the Jumbo grocery store in a small town in the Netherlands realized that the seniors in their community saw the grocery store experience differently. The grocery store was essentially the centre of the community.
The Jumbo supermarket created two initiatives: the first was a “Chat Checkout” (or Kletskassa in Dutch) grocery line checkout where cashiers are invited to slow down the transaction time of scanning and bagging groceries and are instead encouraged to talk with their customers.
The second initiative has been adding a conversation corner for seniors where they can sit in the store with other locals and talk. The “All Together” coffee corner has also partnered with a Foundation that provides volunteers to run the coffee corners, and the Jumbo supermarket chain provides the coffee and the space.
These two initiatives are fully supported by the management of the supermarket chain. While supermarkets look for cost reduction and advocated self-checkouts, they also realized that this did nothing for the social interaction of their older clientele who had other needs for community contact.
Post-pandemic, Jumbo supermarkets are partnering with the national ministry of health to open another 200 slow checkout lanes and coffee corners in other stores across the country.