German supermarkets introduce chatty checkout for lonely customers
To remedy growing social isolation brought on by the pandemic, a number of German supermarkets have decided to introduce a chatty checkout, where customers can take a little more time to pack their purchases and get a daily dose of discussion while they're at it.
German supermarkets open sociable chatty checkout
Plaudern, quatschen, ratschen and schwatzen, German has a plethora of names for chatting away. But in comparison to some of their European neighbours, the Germans aren’t so well known for indulging in a blether, particularly at the supermarket checkout.
Now, a number of supermarkets in Bavaria are looking to change this and use the checkout transaction as a location for fostering social interaction.
According to an EU study, reports of loneliness in Europe jumped from 12 percent of the population to 25 percent before and during the coronavirus pandemic. Managers at the Edeka supermarket in Memmingen are hoping that their new Ratschkasse, which is open Monday to Thursday between 9am and 11am, will help to give socially isolated people a chance to chat.
One of the first culture shocks for newcomers to Germany is often the lightning speed at which supermarket cashiers scan their purchases, leaving them frantically packing their backpacks before a long queue of customers. The efficiency doesn’t allow for much chit-chat, a custom which is often expected by many foreigners in this social exchange.
Plauderkasse should have the feeling of a Tante-Emma-Laden
The project was initiated by Edeka branch owner Ilka Abröll-Groiß and Bavarian Minister for Health Klaus Holetschek (CSU), who took inspiration from the Netherlands where allocated chatty checkouts have existed for many years. "It's the opposite of those self-scan checkouts that we think are really awful," Abröll-Groiß said.
Another supermarket in Bavaria has been running a chatty Kasse for the past six weeks, with positive results so far. Speaking to German regional newspaper Merkur, supermarket manager Marius Höchner said that the Plauderkasse should have the feeling of a Tante-Emma-Laden, the German name for a traditional, small grocery shop run by just one or two people.
Similar schemes have also been trialled further south, in Switzerland, where chatty tills at supermarkets and pharmacies were introduced as part of a health initiative last autumn. While the project was only scheduled to last six months, it was extended due to the overwhelmingly positive response.
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