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covid pandemic

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As 2021 comes to a close, we’ve all had to deal with a multitude of changes within our communities. Ever since March of 2020, people around the globe have had to navigate local regulations, nationwide mandates, and wave after wave of COVID-19 case spikes. But while certain parts of our lives saw little growth, others saw a surge in popularity.

For example, the home gym equipment space reported record earnings during the onset of the pandemic and for the entire year of 2020. And this was mirrored all throughout the home health space.

But one recreational activity that saw a huge spike in popularity was fishing. Reasonably so, many people who were stuck at home for months on end were dying to get out of the house. And fishing offers this opportunity in wide-open spaces.

Here, we’ll explore why fishing has seen a continuous uptick in popularity over the last couple of years.

Getting Outside

Across the nation during the month of March, just about every federal, state, and local park, golf courses, and the like were all taped off, locked up, or shut down entirely due to fear of COVID-19 spreading. And many states and local communities kept these outdoor areas closed for a considerable amount of time.

But one thing that local community leaders couldn’t do was close down open spaces, public lands, or our favorite fishing holes.

While some bodies of water were restricted during the shutdown, many remained open. And this is where outdoor enthusiasts and people from all walks of life found sanctuary.

Fishing became a great way to get out of the house and deal with the shutdown and mandated quarantines. And with great sites like tailoredtackle.com, you could order fishing tackle from home and keep from going bonkers in the house for days on end.

Grocery Prices

Not only is fishing a sport and a pastime, but it’s also a great way to provide food for the family. And with recent hikes in prices in grocery stores across the country, fishing is a perfect alternative to buying costly groceries.

For example, the price of beef alone is up between 16 and 17 percent by some calculations in 2021. And the price of fish and shellfish has risen up over 18 percent. This means that you’re getting less for more money, and nobody wants to spend extra money during hard economic times.

The price of a fishing license ranges from 5 to 20 dollars on average, depending on what state you live in. And with this very affordable price, you can go out and fish every single day and have a meal ready at the end of your trip. But only if you have solid fishing skills.

Relaxation

With all of the undue stress the pandemic has caused around the world, you’ve probably noticed that many people are on edge, and far more people have reported issues with anxiety and depression in the last couple of years.

The stress that COVID-19 has caused doesn’t help matters when a recovery is underway. As such, finding a stress-free activity has been a goal of many people across the country and the world.

Fishing offers one the ability to get out in the natural world and release stress. And there are many scientific studies that can back up this claim.

For example, moving water causes a release of negative ions. And being around moving water with this ion discharge has been shown to create a sense of calm within the human body. Additionally, you’re also out in the sunshine getting plenty of Vitamin D and breathing in large amounts of fresh air.

Arguably, fishing is everything the doctor ordered to help reduce stress.

As we all continue dealing with COVID-19, it’s only through being creative and finding new ways to cope that we’ll be able to move forward with our lives and with our sanity. And fishing has proven to be one of these activities.

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With 2020 now over, people are ready to put the isolation factors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic behind them. For many, the first order of business is travel! Currently, the demand for travel in the U.S. is high. However, the industry has changed since the 2020 interim year of lockdown and this in turn is influencing traveler habits. Here’s what we can expect to see.

Travel is Booming

Once vaccination options were announced, people immediately began to think about summer travel. During the first week of March 2021, Airbnb and VRBO saw a surge in bookings that even exceeded pre-pandemic levels. Other travel companies, such as airlines, hotels and online travel platforms, were also the busiest they’d been since before the pandemic.

This trend hasn’t stopped, and industry experts are projecting summer travel could thrive. A Tripadvisor survey in April found more than half of Americans planned to travel, but 97% planned domestic travel. Travel agencies report that business is shaping up to exceed expectations. Rising airline prices, typical annual gas increases, and even difficulty securing rental cars (at higher than normal prices) are additional signs of increased travel.

Accommodation Preferences

For the most part, hotels are projected to make a big comeback as travelers become more comfortable and ready to explore beyond their backyards, but vacation rentals are still the accommodation of choice due to people preferring to avoid crowds and shared spaces. People have generally gotten used to enjoying certain aspects of social distancing and this may not change as things get back to normal.

Families especially like to avoid the cramped conditions of a hotel room, where the kids have to be taken everywhere to eat and to be entertained. They have long found that rental accommodations with their own kitchens and a washer/dryer, and loaded with in-house entertainments and attractions are the way to keep the whole family happy and actually let Mom get some rest. Others are catching on to this, and Gatlinburg cabins are booming this year, as nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park, already America’s most visited national park, sees record-breaking numbers of visitors.

New Travel Trends

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the way people live and this is undoubtedly overlapping with their travel preferences. Workcations have now become a thing, as many employers embrace work from home – having learned during the pandemic that productivity didn’t drop just because people were out of the office. As a result, up to 80% of employers plan to allow remote work at least part of the time.

Workers have grasped the options for workcation travel, such as working for an extended period of time at a beachfront rental, or spending a week or two in a cabin by a mountainside lake, or even moving to another city and exploring how the locals live for a month or two. The possibilities are endless as people discover new ways to tick off their bucket-list places without using up valuable vacation time.

Pod Travel happens when people plan secluded trips with others they trust, to minimize risks associated with group travel. Travel pods are groups consisting of two or more unrelated households, multigenerational groups, extended families, solo travelers, and friend groups.

The idea is that everyone agrees to specific health protocols before and during the trip, even including a rapid test before meeting up to assure self and others of a clean bill of health. On the trip, participants stay contained within their pod to reduce exposure to other travelers. Travelers going pod-style often rent large homes, or charter boats, reserve small hotels, arrange tours designed for large private groups, or go camping.

Staying near family has renewed interest from people largely separated from their loved ones during the pandemic. Family visits are increasingly popular and the next few years will likely be spent catching up with family. Travelers are likely to stay with family or reserve a nearby rental home where they can socialize more privately. Multi-generational living has already been on the rise in America, and the same may be true for vacationing.

Health and Budget-Conscious

Going forward, travelers are likely to be more focused on safety and budget. Increased vigilance about health protocols and being budget-minded are likely to be dominating factors for travel planning even after this initial travel rush (aka revenge travel) is over.

The COVID-19 pandemic was an eye-opener and people will be more conscious of sanitary practices and promoting good health. Consumers are also less likely to take anything for granted – a travel opportunity today may not be there tomorrow, as the pandemic showed us. On the other hand, many have noticed how much money they didn’t spend in 2020 and are likely to be less impulsive and, instead, be driven by price.

Consumer Expectations

Consumer expectations are also evolving, and the industry is changing to suit. Companies associated with travel have been making goodwill gestures to try and lure people back. Hotel chains charging resort and parking fees are now lifting them, while airlines are offering more promotions and easier ticket changes.

Cleanliness is now a high value: accommodations, rental cars and airlines are promoting deep cleaning protocols. Businesses are discouraging people from traveling while sick. And the industry as a whole is offering more flexible refund policies and better customer service across the board.

From the traveler’s point of view, touchless and digital experiences enhance just about any aspect of travel, because people like the ease and control they have from their phones. The pandemic brought to the fore many desires for improvement that travelers had long held. Now, as the travel industry embraces its returning wave of travelers, we could see many improvements that make the nuts and bolts of travel easier and more fun.

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Photo Getty Images

Before the worldwide COVID virus pandemic hit in early 2020, retail gasoline prices were already relatively low compared to the prior four years. But once the historically unique economic impact of the virus sank in, the cost of a gallon of fuel dropped by about 50 percent for most consumers. Plus, that entire and massive plunge in value took place within a four-week window of time. Necessity of the mother of invention, as the old saying goes. In this case, millions of individual investors started thinking about investment opportunities in oil, assuming COVID wouldn’t last forever and that per-gallon costs would eventually bounce back.

It’s important for every investor to understand the way the health crisis affect the fuel market, who some of the key players are, how the overall economic shutdown is continuing to change the world, and what at the pump prices are likely to do in the near future. The good news for people who wish to turn a crisis into an opportunity is that oil prices still have room to rise before they’re back at pre-crisis levels. Anyone who wants to know how to buy crude oil should consider such diverse methods as ETFs (exchange-traded funds), corporate stocks, futures, options, and CFDs (contracts for difference).

The COVID Effect on Recent Prices

Why did a worldwide virus lead to a huge drop in the price of crude, and by extension, gasoline? The primary factor was economic shutdown, which took place in most developing and developed nations. With millions of people either not working or doing their jobs from home, there was a gigantic drop in the need for vehicle fuel, which meant an over-supply situation. Like a 1,000-pound boulder in a pond, the value of the world’s most preferred fossil fuel sank about 50 percent within a couple of weeks.

The Iran Effect

Political turmoil in producer nations can lead to unusual changes in the energy markets, as the recent Iranian situation clearly demonstrates. After the U.S. pulled out of a large international coalition and decided to impose trading sanctions on Iran, the market reacted quickly, anticipating a possible oil shortage if Iran decides to cut production in retaliation for the U.S. move. For at least 30 years, the volatile leadership in Iran has wreaked havoc on the worldwide energy markets, which is one reason investors always keep a close eye on that nation’s financial news.

OPEC+ and Russia

There has been a recent change at the top of the global energy-producing hierarchy. For decades, Saudi Arabia, as the leading member of OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), was in near-total control of international supply. However, OPEC is now only number three in a trio of the globe’s top petroleum producers, which includes the U.S. at the top and Russia in the second spot. But investors should remember that OPEC still has a lot of power because its members act in unison, while U.S. and Russian producers do not.

The Economic Shutdown

In the second half of 2019, the per-barrel cost of crude petroleum sat at about the $55 mark. Now that the virus effect is slowing, that $55 level is still about $12 above the current $43 cost. That’s good news for anyone who still wants to take part in what could be a rise back to the normal, or at least pre-crisis values.

Prices at the Gas Pump

For consumers who worry about their monthly transportation budgets, there is an upside and a downside. As the national and world economies rebound and employment numbers get back to financially healthy levels, the price of petrol at the pump is also going back to its 2019 averages, slowly but surely.

For Investors to Consider

Before heading to your favorite trading platform to place orders for fuel-based CFDs, futures, and industry stock shares, consider some key facts about recent price activity and industry behavior, including the following:

  • Since 2014, the price, in U.S. dollars, of a barrel of crude oil dropped from $104 to $30.
  • The huge fall in per-barrel values were only partly due to COVID-related factors.
  • The new trio of top producers, the U.S., Russia, and OPEC are the predominant influencers behind global production and supply.
  • When the world economy is doing well, per-barrel prices usually go up due to increased industrial demand.
  • Natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes can have profound temporary effects on the industry.
  • At-the-pump costs for consumers are affected by at least a half-dozen factors, including retail demand, inflation, supplies, economic headlines in producing countries, and political turmoil. That makes it difficult to predict future market behavior.