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Business News Roundup, Nov. 30, 2021

A forecast on Omicron variant disruptions, a partial blockade of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, slower Cyber Monday sales, small retailers investing more in inventory, the need for a major shift in the movie theater business, the effect of a surge in self-employment, and a digital currency company relocating to Connecticut are among the top business news items this morning.

National

The uncertainty created by the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 has increased the likelihood that inflation will extend well into 2022, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will tell Congress today according to prepared remarks. Powell said the variant could hinder efforts to ease issues such as labor shortages and supply chain constraints, while upward wage pressures are also likely to continue influencing inflation.

A federal judge has partially blocked the implementation of the White House’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for certain health care workers in 10 states. The mandate applies to staff at health care providers participating in Medicare or Medicaid, and had set a Dec. 6 deadline for workers to get their first dose of a vaccine.

Business trends

Cyber Monday sales are expected to disappoint this year. Analysts say factors including a limited inventory, fewer discounts, and shoppers more comfortable with in-person shopping will likely keep e-commerce sales flat.

Some small retailers have been purchasing in bulk in anticipation of continued supply chain challenges during the holiday shopping season. This shift in strategy comes with some risk, since it means businesses must put more of their cash into inventory and hope for strong sales.

A study by the film research company Quorum suggests that movie theaters need to make a fundamental shift in how their business operates and what they offer in a filmgoing experience. The researchers suggest that nearly half of pre-pandemic audiences have stopped seeing movies in person, with 8 percent unlikely to ever return.

The record level of quits occurring in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic is leading hundreds of thousands of people to pursue self-employment, according to a feature in the Wall Street Journal. The rise in entrepreneurship is also creating additional employment pressures and labor shortages in certain industries.

Connecticut

Digital Currency Group, an investor in bitcoin and blockchain technologies, will relocate its headquarters from New York City to Stamford. The Department of Economic and Community Development is supporting the move with a $5 million grant in arrears, which is contingent on the company creating and retaining at least 300 jobs.

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