Jempson’s is beating the hoarders

Shelves start to return to normal

Emergencies so often bring out the best and sometimes the worst in people, and the current problems we are experiencing are no exception. We have seen the good side a lot in recent days with many local residents going out of their way to help others who, even prior to the lock down, were, for one reason or another, confined to their home.

The other side of the coin is the few, and fortunately only a very few, who have little concern for anyone or anything except themselves.

Stripped bare in Peasmarsh

Sadly this was demonstrated only too clearly by the hordes who descended on the Jempson’s stores in Peasmarsh and Rye last week. Initially it was the herd instinct of people fearful that items they felt were essential would be out of stock and unobtainable. Invariably, of course it is that very herd instinct and the accompanying panic buying that is the cause of depleted stocks.

To a degree this was understandable as none of us want to find ourselves without food and essential everyday items with no possibility of replenishing them. However this was only half the problem. The big supermarkets elsewhere were all having the same problem of shelves being emptied faster than they could be refilled, and the result was that localised supermarket chains such as Jempson’s became the target of deliberate over-buying by, we understand from several sources, many from outside our area.

The result, as many of us saw with our own eyes, was stripped shelves and overflowing trolleys. It is also interesting to note that there has been a run on new freezers – a recent check on the Currys website showed them to be very largely out of stock, particularly of the cheaper models!

Empty bread shelves

However, the news is not all bad. Although over-buying continued into the weekend, a big effort by Jempson’s staff and their suppliers has resulted in the shops now returning to some form of normality. There are, unsurprisingly, still some shortages, particularly of fresh meat and fish, but other items, such as bread and eggs – stripped from the shelves by 11am on Saturday morning, are once more fully stocked.

In a recent discussion with Jempson’s managing director, Stephen Jempson, he expressed optimism that the worst of panic buying was now over but stressed that it was important that customers should shop responsibly and not buy just to hoard more than they need.

The supply chain may be stretched at present, but it can cope and there will be few, if any, shortages providing we all use restraint. Current availability (Wednesday, March 25) is shown at the bottom of this article and customers should note that there is now a limit of three pieces of each individual item per customer.

Tubs of sanitising wipes at the shop entrance

The Covid-19 crisis, with many people even before the lockdown either being confined to their homes or reluctant to enter crowded supermarkets, has resulted in a spike in demand for home deliveries and even giants such as Tesco are now quoting three weeks delivery (as at Wednesday March 25).

It is not surprising, therefore, that Jempson’s, who also offer home delivery, but without the vast resources available to Tesco or the other giants, are now only able to deliver to those who have no other means of getting food and other essentials into their homes. If you are in quarantine, ill or self isolating and have no one – friends, neighbours or family, who can shop for you (and don’t forget Rye Mutual Aid), then, says Stephen Jempson, the supermarket will do its very best to help. But if you, or someone for you can get to the shop, please do not ask for a home delivery.

I asked Mr Jempson what had been the most in-demand product. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the answer was hand sanitiser – stocks of this, nationally, have been conscripted by the NHS. There are now sanitiser hand wipes at the shop entrance which customers are asked to use. I was told that there was a recent incident when a person removed the top of the dispenser and stole the entire contents. A security person now stands guard.

And the least in-demand product? Tinned prunes.

So the very strong message now is: shop as you would do normally and there should be few if any supply problems, going forward. Only use direct delivery from Jempson’s if you have no other way of shopping.

The current stock situation is as follows :

Milk Good local supply
Produce (fruit and veg) Good local supply
Bread Our bakers are working around the clock
Fresh meat We are struggling with the full range
Groceries Range improving by the day
Beers, wines, spirits Good availability
Toilet rolls Receiving deliveries daily – but supply is still short
Hand sanitiser Out of stock. Delivery due March 30

[Editor’s note: However the position could change daily and Jempson’s opening hours are also changing. For details visit or]

Image Credits: John Minter , Jempsons .


  1. Well done to Jempsons. Their staff in the Rye store where I shop have been working exceptionally hard to restock when the supplies arrive very early in the morning when the greedy shoppers are happily asleep in bed. I’ve seen how difficult it is for them to fill a trolley for delivery. I hope they can monitor those wanting deliveries. Thank you to all their staff in both stores.
    Can we locals also thank our butcher and Williams for being well stocked. They also had people from outside the Rye area trying to panic buy. We are very lucky in Rye to have small shops for papers, pet supplies, the Deli’s services and others.
    I hope the staff of all these shops keep well and understand that their efforts are much appreciated.

  2. Well said, Daphne. I have also written to Jempsons, they are serving the Community in the most difficult of circumstances. How fortunate we are to live in Rye.

  3. Well done and a huge thank you to all staff in all the shops that are open for the sale of essential items. I think they also deserve a round of applause from everyone for being on “the front line” day in and day out.

  4. Well said Daphne, a big thank you to the shops you have mentioned, they are our lifeblood, as indeed other local shopkeepers are also. Thank you all.

  5. Absolutely agree. All our local shops are working extremely hard keeping us all supplied.
    I just hope when this finally comes to an end people still continue to support our local butchers, greengrocers etc and not return to out of town shops.
    We need to support them or lose them.
    A big thank you to them all.


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