A potential customer examines a ball in Sports and Games at Long Circular Mall, St James,˚ yesterday.

Shoppers took to several popular malls in north Trinidad yesterday as government’s recent relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions meant that they were able to restart shopping.

Customers, however, were not the only ones smiling beneath their masks as store owners expressed their joy to be back in business after two months of closed doors.

Christian Fermin and Johann Husbands, managers of NJ Sports, located at Movietowne in Port-of-Spain, said they were elated to remove the chains from the store’s door and open it to the public.

“Joyous, excited…I’m glad to come back to work,” he said.

Husbands said being cooped up at home and not being able to earn an income had become frustrating.

“Actually leaving the house, earning a dollar, it feels really good and I am relieved to have opened back for business,” he said.

When a team from Guardian Media visited the store, both men were doing some last-minute cleaning, unpacking and putting the final touches to begin their first steps towards revival mode.

Accepting that it won’t be business as usual going forward, Fermin explained how the shopping experience s expected to change.

“We still maintaining social distancing. We’re going to put hand sanitisers by the door, only allowing three people in the store and you have to wear a mask. No mask, no service.”

Franka Phillip who journeyed from La Brea with her family described her visit to shopping outlets as ‘refreshing’ but added that she won’t be taking any unnecessary risks.

“For us, we have to continue the social distancing, the washing of our hands we have to keep it safe, even though we get the opportunity to come out we have to stay safe.”

Manager of Fan Zone, Shivani Ghany, said her heart was now set on reconnecting with customers.

“We always engage with them when they come into the store so over the years we built relationships so much so that we know their wives, husbands, children even their grandchildren so we missed that part in being able to stay in touch with our customers.”

A visit to other popular shopping malls also painted the gradual shift from a retail slump, as vehicle and customer traffic increased as compared to weeks ago.