Online shopping has been a part of life for a quarter-century now, but reached lofty new heights when COVID-19 lockdowns were at their height last spring.

Yet the results of a Verizon study called "Look Forward" indicate that New Jerseyans want to get back to in-person shopping as vaccinations increase and the pandemic crawls toward the finish line.

Through a combination of Verizon network data from 3,000 Americans, and analysis from the market research firm Morning Consult, the survey showed that in New Jersey, 21% of respondents reported they shopped mostly online prior to March 2020.

More than a year later, that figure has jumped to 34%, but only 18% expect their shopping habits will remain mainly online once the pandemic is over.

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"In fact, less people want to shop online completely when we're on the other side of the pandemic than were previously doing it before the pandemic started," David Weissman, Verizon communications manager, said. "People really have a hunger to get back out and shop in person."

The reasons for that were not made clear in the study, Weissman said, but it can be assumed that people simply want to support their local, small businesses that may not have much of an online presence, and have person-to-person experiences again, at long last.

The need for reliable internet connectivity, meanwhile, is evident in the number of workers who've had to use what they have at home to connect to virtual private networks for work, or make use of collaborative tools like Zoom.

But stay-at-home orders have also led to a 21% jump in streaming activity in New Jersey in the past year-plus, and more than a third of Garden State residents now say they spend three or more hours a week playing games on their mobile devices.

"People are definitely streaming more, they're binge-watching and enjoying that, and obviously needing reliable connectivity to do that," Weissman said.

And while working from home at least some of the time seems to be a permanent part of the future, not all adults are on board with that component of the "new normal."

"The exception to that was more than 60% of parents are rushing to get back to the office, because those of us that are parents know it hasn't been easy to work from home with the kids around," Weissman said.

What about remote learning? With better home connectivity, could New Jersey see an end to school cancellations due to inclement weather? Nearly 7 in 10 New Jerseyans, 69%, expect K-12 schools to push ahead with lesson plans online, even when it's snowing out.

"I'd pause there and say that we might see a child uprising which might impact that, because snow days, you know, that's as old as it comes," Weissman said.

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