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Will Omicron Keep Shopping Travelers Out of Stores?

Omicron Travel
Father and son traveling by plane

THE DAILY SCOPE, 12/2/21: Let’s be real: In today’s highly interconnected world, where millions of people travel internationally every day, keeping the Omicron variant from entering the United States at all would have been a nearly impossible task. As we reported yesterday, the first case of the Omicron variant has already been discovered here in the U.S. What many are wondering now is how significantly this new strain of the virus will affect the economy.

Today, President Biden announced a series of new and continued strategies targeted at limiting the infiltration of the Omicron variant including an extended mask mandate on public transportation and a tightening of the testing window for international travelers from 72 hours before departure to just 24 hours. In good news for retailers, senior officials are confident that with the widespread use of vaccines and boosters, the country has the infrastructure to stay open for business and avoid the lockdowns that plagued earlier iterations of the pandemic. However, those worried about the impact of Omicron on the already strained supply chain will have to wait until more information regarding its infectiousness becomes available.  

Square, the financial services company, co-founded by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is adopting the new name Block. Square is traditionally known for its mobile credit card reader that allows small businesses to process payment via smartphone. The name change is part of the company’s push to separate the overarching corporate entity from its individual businesses, which include Square, Cash App, TIDAL, Afterpay, and Spiral. The company announced that the new name, Block, carries many associated meanings ranging from a neighborhood block to the blockchain.

The coronavirus is not the only thing currently transcending international borders. The online world created by metaverse platforms transcends boundaries to virtually connect people from all over the world. The metaverse, a fancy name for 3D online worlds that aim to integrate the digital and physical worlds, is drawing major investment across the globe. SoftBank Group recently announced a $150 million investment in a South Korean metaverse platform, and the growth of some metaverse-themed, exchange-traded funds have shown consumer willingness to invest in the uncertain yet exciting world of the metaverse. Major tech companies such as Microsoft and Nvidia Corp. have announced plans to develop metaverse platforms, and consumer-goods companies such as Nike and Verizon have shown a willingness to use these platforms to spread brand awareness. 

On the wackier news front , there has also been a metaverse digital real estate boom, as investment groups look to acquire digital land in platforms such as Sandbox and Decentraland. Last week saw Canadian investment firm Tokens.com Corp. pay $2.5 million dollars for land in Decentraland’s Fashion District only to be beat out by the investment group Republic Realm, which spent $4.3 million for land in Sandbox. With Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, announcing earlier this month that it plans to build virtual storefronts in the metaverse, it’s time to for smart retailers to keep an eye on this space.


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