Dutch retailer to open ‘chat registers’ for lonely shoppers

A Dutch supermarket claims to be striking a blow against e-commerce by opening 200 “chat registers” for lonely customers.

Jumbo, the Netherlands’ second-largest grocery chain, said the checkouts are “especially for people who are not in a hurry and feel like having a chat”.

Vice News reports that a quarter of Dutch people over 15 feel at least “moderately lonely”, which rises to 33 per cent among over-75s.

“Many people, especially the elderly, sometimes feel lonely,” a Jumbo representative said.

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“It’s a small gesture, but a very valuable one, especially in a world that is digitizing and getting faster and faster.”

Supermarkets massively expanded their online capabilities during the Covid-19 pandemic to cope with lockdown rules.

At the same time, multinationals including Amazon and Tesco have started to open checkout-free shops to the public.

Jumbo created its first “chat register” – known as a “kletskassa” – in 2019, and is expanding its selection through the government-sponsored “One Against Loneliness” programme.

It will also open an unspecified number of “cosy chat corners” for customers to talk over a cup of coffee.

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