Should we be grateful?


Christmas Day is next Monday and a public holiday. Boxing Day on Tuesday is theoretically a Bank Holiday if you disregard the sales.

And of course that is what the shops want to do – make sales.

Customers, however, want goods to be available when they need them and this, particularly in the areas of food and drink, can be at the last minute.

This is because the customers may be lucky enough to have jobs, and Christmas is a busy period for them too.

So where do they go for food and drink on Christmas Eve? Certainly not Jempsons, Rye’s only supermarket and its still “work in progress” supermarket.

Going to the temporary Post Office within Jempsons earlier this week, I found my shoes had acquired a lumpy undercoating of tar, a typical experience in a supermarket which has now tried for many months to reconstruct itself around, above, and even below customers.

But, back to Dickensian times, Jempsons will not open on Christmas Eve. And the Peasmarsh store will apparently not reopen until Wednesday December 27 after closing at 10pm on Saturday December 23.

Yes, both stores will be open overnight December 22/23 but that’s not when I want them to be open. And I suspect from the amount of building work still going on that an “all-nighter” might be more for Jempsons’ benefit than anyone else’s.

The “new” Post Office has not opened on schedule and I have limited confidence, at this stage, that my parcels will be delivered on time from the temporary setting.

I am grateful that I can at least find things now in the supermarket, though I worry that there may be yet another major reshuffle over Christmas. It was embarrassing in the summer having to tell visitors that I had no idea where things were. And how long ago was that?

I gather the Rye Store will reopen on Boxing Day from 6am to 10pm. In the meantime though, if you do have a last minute crisis, Sainsbury’s in New Romney is open 10am to 4pm on Sunday, M&S in Hastings is the same , and I imagine most of the major supermarkets are similar.

But will 2018 actually start with a Jempsons supermarket in Rye without builders on the premises? I wonder.

Photo: Rye News Library

Photo: Rye News Library

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  1. Why should people in retail also not enjoy a reasonable Christmas Break along with the rest of us? Well done Jempsons! 24 hour a day, 7 days a week shopping is completely unnecessary.

  2. Still having to pay £1.00 surcharge for the privilege to use the Post Office, unless one is about before 9am or after 4pm.

  3. It would be so much more rewarding to read something positive from Charles Harkness for once. He appears to be in a constant state of negativity about everything or at least that is how his articles always come across. Jempsons just cannot win; if they are open during the building works they are damned by him and if they are closed they are damned by him. I understand it is partly for religious reasons and also to allow staff time with their families that Jempsons is closed on Sundays – neither seems unreasonable to me albeit slightly inconvenient.
    Merry Christmas, Mr Harkness and I look forward to your good cheer in 2018.

  4. One of the gravest concerns for modern Britain is family breakdown and all that it can so tragically lead to.

    Three loud Christmas cheers, then, for Jempsons – and their staff – putting sound family values before profit !

    A little patience from anyone unable to plan ahead seems a
    very small price to pay …

  5. I have just read a notice outside Jempsons today, free half hour parking for small shop, after that you pay, does this now mean you pay for parking, above the limit 24 hours per day,and when did this come into force,so shoppers after 4pm, do not get caught out.

  6. Mr Harkness suggests the shutting of Jempson’s on Christmas Eve is a reversion to ‘Dickensian Times’.
    However, as a timely reminder, Christmas Day did not become a public holiday in England until 1871. And, of course, Mr Dickens died in June 1870!
    Plus, as further proof that Jempson’s really doesn’t inhabit ‘Dickensian Times’, it doesn’t send small boys up chimneys!

  7. The evidence does not seem to suggest Jempsons staff in Rye got a “decent Christmas break” as suggested above in two comments.

    Though I suppose it depends on how you define “decent” and whether by “Christmas break” you include the whole holiday period from Friday Dec 22 to Tuesday Jan 2. So let’s look at the facts.

    Christmas Eve, not a public holiday, just another Sunday, Jempsons SHUT.

    Boxing Day, a public holiday, Jempsons OPEN.

    New Year’s Day, another public holiday, Jempsons OPEN.

    So two public holidays were NOT part of the “decent Christmas break” !

    And Jempsons were only actually shut on the two Sundays, Dec 24 and 31.

    But they did stay open all night Dec 22/23 in addition to opening up on two public holidays.

    If I worked for Jempsons I’m not sure how much of a “break” I really had – or where “sound family values” fitted into that working schedule.

    • Oh dear!

      Jempsons colleagues get 52 Sundays off each year – 1 day in 7, to spend with their families or as they wish. Our reasons for this are well known. As an aside and perhaps something to ponder – staff churn (turnover of staff) is one of the lowest in the industry. This year all staff received 2 days in a row at Christmas (Sun 24th & Mon 25th) – skelton staff were working on the 26th. Compare this to the industry norm.

      With regard to Car Parking we have a new policy which will be introduced in fully in the next few weeks. I’m confident this will address many customers concerns.

      Anyway…. – Happy New Year to all readers and correspondents!

      Kind regards

      Stephen J

  8. As much as I constantly moan about Jempons ( Stephen Jempson must groan on the receipt of my emails), I commend them for giving a day off a week to staff and particularly over the Christmas period.

    There’s plenty of other shops open – Williams in Cinque Port Street, Costcutter,
    Farm Shop, Tillingreen etc

  9. Congratulations to Jempsons for achieving a new build whilst still trading. It must have been very difficult at times and still has problems no doubt.
    Very glad to read so many positive responses to Mr Grumpy. Neither he nor I grew up with 24 hour shopping availability. We had larders, later refrigerators, and planned purchasing. I wouldn’t want to go back to those times except for the planning aspect whereby knowing Jempson’s hours, a canny shopper can buy ahead or ring up one of those nice companies which will deliver to your door.


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