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Japan supermarket starts slow checkout lane for elderly, disabled

A special checkout counter for people who take time to pay for goods is seen set up at an outlet of the Youme Town supermarket chain in the city of Yukuhashi, Fukuoka Prefecture. (Mainichi/Masaki Matsumoto)

YUKUHASHI, Fukuoka -- A project in which a checkout counter is reserved for older and disabled customers to allow them to pay for their groceries slowly and without feeling pressured has been launched at a supermarket in this southwestern Japan city from July 8.

Staff at the Minami-Yukuhashi branch of the Youme Town supermarket chain hope that older people will be able to shop with peace of mind, and that others customers will become more considerate of people who take time to pay.

The "Slow Register" campaign was proposed by Kaori Abe, 53, who runs a city-based nonprofit organization that supports elderlies and people with disabilities. The idea came after older people would often tell her things like, "I take time to take out cash from my wallet, and feel pressured if a line has formed behind me," and, "I get hesitant to go shopping after people in the line behind me show their irritation." It's the first initiative of its kind in the Kyushu region, according to Abe.

The branch store will offer the special service between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. A sign will indicate where the service is being held at one of the shop's six checkout counters, and staff will match the pace of customers using the service.

(Japanese original by Masaki Matsumoto, Yukuhashi Resident Bureau)

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