A chat at checkout: Migros opens slow checkout where people linger and talk

A chat at checkout: Migros opens slow checkout where people linger and talk

A Migros store in Basel has launched a new type of checkout line, where instead of scanning items yourself or having a cashier scan them at speed, people are able to linger a while and talk. The new system is designed to combat loneliness, especially among the youth and elderly.

Special checkouts at Migros to encourage talking and slow pace shopping

Two special checkouts at a Migros store in Basel’s Gundeli district, and one at a pharmacy in Gellert, have now been opened to the public. The system, called chat checkouts (Plauderkassen), is designed to allow people to pack and pay for their shopping slowly and talk to the cashier. 

The scheme is funded by the local healthcare provider and organised by the health organisation Gsünder Basel, who say it is targeted at those that just need someone to talk to. “Studies show that around a third of the population in Switzerland is lonely. These are not always the elderly, but also young people,” managing director Stefanie Näf told SRF.

Chat checkouts originally come from the Netherlands

The idea of a chat checkout actually comes from Jumbo supermarkets in the Netherlands, where a number of cash registers are dedicated to taking things slow. At Migros, workers who have been at the store for many years are put on the Plauderkassen as they are likely to have already met the regular shoppers and can strike up more of a conversation.

If the line gets too long, employees of Gsünder Basel take over the chat. "Sometimes we even carry people's purchases home," Näf admitted. The aim of the project is to give people someone to talk to, help them link with social organisations or, in the words of Näf, even “find a suitable club for a person interested in chess."

Chat checkouts in Basel prove popular with the elderly

So far, the idea has gone down well with shoppers, with one elderly lady telling SRF she finds the checkout very useful. "Sometimes I can't find anyone to chat with, although I really enjoy doing it," she noted, with another saying the slower pace makes it more relaxing to pay for items, especially as she doesn’t have a bank card.

The new Plauderkassen will be in place in Basel for a trial period of six months. If they prove popular with shoppers, the tills will be made permanent and more projects will be started in other Migros stores.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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