WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - The lifting of Delaware’s stay-at-home order on June 1 didn’t trigger the economic reawakening the state had hoped for, as many stores remained closed over fears of the coronavirus and weekend looting.
All of the state’s malls - Christiana, Concord and Dover - remained closed after looters hit the Dover Mall on the night of May 31 at the end of a day of protests in response to George Floyd’s death.
Many national chains including J.C. Penney, Marshalls and Burlington had already decided to keep their Delaware stores closed June 1, while others continued operating through curbside pickup and by appointment.
The decisions left only a handful of stores with crowds of those eager to return to their normal routines, after more than two months under the state’s stay-at-home order.
“I missed getting out of the house,” Susan August said outside the Boscov’s off Route 273.
As a retiree, August’s day-to-day didn’t change drastically at the beginning of the pandemic. More recently, she has started to miss things like going out to eat.
Before shopping at Boscov’s, where her expired coupons were still honored, August started her day with a haircut. But she said she still isn’t entirely comfortable being out in public.
The inside of Boscov’s didn’t appear much different than a typical day, except for the hand sanitizer at the door and the masks worn by workers and customers. Unlike grocery stores, where people have become accustomed to following one-way arrows and social distancing markings, customers wandered free throughout the store.
There was less traffic at Center Pointe Plaza off Churchmans Road, where T.J. Maxx remained closed but other stores including New Balance, Johnny Janosik and La-Z-Boy welcomed customers back slowly.
For New Balance manager Greg Savizon, the day didn’t seem much different than when the shoe store starting offering appointment at the end of May. Delaware’s intermediate steps in May, allowing curbside pickup and appointments, took some pressure off the June 1 reopen date. Savizon said in the early afternoon the store had seen about two-thirds of its normal business.
“I think once people know that we’re open we’ll get more customers,” he said.
Standing outside the nearby Golf Galaxy, Joe Federowicz said it’s time for businesses to fully reopen. The Golf Galaxy planned on reopening June 1 but switched to curbside pickup in response to the protests, an employee said as another retrieved tees for Federowicz.
Asked if he was worried about the spread of the virus, Federowicz said, “I’m an eternal optimist. We gotta bring back the economy.” Federowicz added that the protests aren’t helping.
Hundreds of stores between the Christiana, Concord and Dover malls were slated to open on June 1 after store owners and mall officials spent weeks crafting new safety protocols to meet the state’s social distancing requirements and inspire confidence in shoppers.
Videos showing demonstrators wading through shattered glass with products from stores including Forever 21 and Macy’s, revealed a new safety threat, mall officials said, prompting the postponement of their re-openings indefinitely.
“We want to make sure that our shoppers and workers are safe,” said Steve Chambliss, Christiana Mall’s general manager.
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