Some European Supermarkets Have 'Slow' Checkout Lanes For Chatty Shoppers

For most people these days, an on-the-go lifestyle is exceedingly normal. From work to school to family obligations, it can often seem like there are not enough hours in the day to get all your important chores and duties completed. This is especially true when it comes to grocery shopping, which many people attempt to squeeze in after a long workday. And when you pay a visit to the grocery store in a hurry, you want the most efficient and expedient checkout option.

For example, express lanes are designed for shoppers with a certain number of groceries, often being reserved for people with 12 items or fewer. Then there are self-checkout lanes, which the BBC explains were invented by David Humble in 1984. As the story goes, Humble was struck by inspiration as he languished in a long checkout line. (His invention also derived inspiration from the automated teller machines, which debuted in 1967). For many people, these checkout options are key for getting in and out of grocery stores quickly. For others, they deprive shoppers of an essential component of happiness and quality of life: human contact.

A Dutch grocery store helps combat loneliness

It's always heartening to see businesses have a genuine interest in their customers, one that goes beyond profits. According to, the Jumbo supermarket chain seemingly exhibits such care and kindness when it comes to its patrons. In conjunction with a program developed by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Jumbo created Kletskassa, also known in English as "chat checkouts," in 2019 in an attempt to address loneliness and its negative effects among Jumbo shoppers.

Unlike other checkout lanes in the store, chat checkouts operate at a much slower pace. Shoppers are invited to take a moment to share pleasantries with the cashier without worrying about other customers waiting impatiently behind them. While the program is chiefly aimed at senior citizens, many of whom claim that feelings of loneliness are quite common, chat checkouts can be used by anyone. The store also offers customers a "chat corner," which provides coffee and good conversation to those in need of socialization. The initial effort established chat checkouts in 200 Jumbo locations, with subsequent plans aimed at adding 200 more. Of course, chat checkouts are just one grocery store innovation that can enhance the lives of consumers.

A better, faster, stronger shopping experience

For those consumers who are invested in efficient grocery store excursions, Rupal Shah, a retail research specialist, discusses an interesting innovation on the commercial horizon (via While some people enjoy a nice back-and-forth with cashiers, others would rather skip the checkout line altogether, according to Shah. In this case, the U.K. grocery chain Sainsbury's provides the option of scanning products using a mobile app and covering costs with Apple Pay. That means consumers never have to step foot in a checkout line if they're on the go.

Forbes also lists a few checkout upgrades, such as smart carts. In this case, shopping carts come with a special AI capability that can automatically scan products and calculate prices as items are placed inside the cart. There's also a push towards an autonomous shopping experience, which would completely remove the human component from the grocery store experience. As for how consumers feel about these developments, some are not impressed. Upon learning about smart carts, one consumer deemed it "one of Amazon's worst ideas." Accordingly, it appears that many people are not ready to sacrifice human contact for added convenience.