All retail stores were shut down temporarily due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in mid-March. As cases and death rates declined in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy allowed most retail stores in New Jersey to open back up with safety guidelines, such as wearing a mask, maintaining a six-foot distance, providing hand sanitizer, adding protective shields at checkout and keeping fitting rooms closed.
Following Gov. Murphy’s announcement, Montclair State University students were able to return to retail stores and experienced different shopping experiences.
Due to store safety rules, Michael Vasquez, a senior information technology major, wasn’t scared of shopping while the pandemic was going on, although he limited his shopping trips to just grocery shopping.
“I wasn’t interested in shopping in retail stores as they reopened, so I only purchased groceries over the weekends,” Vasquez said.
Rohan Gandhi, a junior business administration major, didn’t go shopping at first because he thought the cases were still too high. He finally went shopping one month after everything reopened.
“Wearing masks became the new normal, so it took some time to get used to it,” Gandhi said. “It was definitely a change. I would always forget it at home, which would not allow me to enter the store.”
Gandhi started shopping alone as he didn’t want any interaction with others. As time went by, he became more comfortable and started going shopping with friends.
“During the pandemic I didn’t find any deals,” Gandhi said. “Shockingly the prices went up. There was demand for toilet tissues, Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer.”
Dillon Laishram, a junior film major, was hesitant to go out and shop since he did not know how many people would be in the stores. He eventually decided that as long as he wore a mask and maintained a safe distance, he would be safe shopping.
“I did not go shopping often unless it was necessary,” Laishram said.
Laishram did most of his shopping with his family, since they normally needed a lot of groceries and supplies for the week. Otherwise, most of the time during the pandemic, he stayed at home.
Jasmine Thomas, a senior information technology major, did not like the new rules at first. She would regularly forget her mask, but soon it became a normal habit. Now, Thomas is used to wearing it all the time.
“My parents would try to keep us out of the store as much as possible and do the shopping themselves,” Thomas said. “Now they are more lenient, but still want us to be extra careful.”
Students also still have the safer option of buying supplies and goods online. Amazon is one the most popular websites for shopping during the pandemic.
“I mostly shop online, even today. My family and I decided that online shopping was the safest option as the number of COVID-19 cases were on the rise,” Laishram said.
Thomas, Gandhi, Laishram and Vasquez did not go to any malls when they reopened. However, they’re not sure if their shopping habits will change much even as cases continue to decline in New Jersey.