Alina Selyukh | New Hampshire Public Radio

Alina Selyukh

Alina Selyukh is a business correspondent at NPR, where she follows the path of the retail and tech industries, tracking how America's biggest companies are influencing the way we spend our time, money, and energy.

Before joining NPR in October 2015, Selyukh spent five years at Reuters, where she covered tech, telecom and cybersecurity policy, campaign finance during the 2012 election cycle, health care policy and the Food and Drug Administration, and a bit of financial markets and IPOs.

Selyukh began her career in journalism at age 13, freelancing for a local television station and several newspapers in her home town of Samara in Russia. She has since reported for CNN in Moscow, ABC News in Nebraska, and NationalJournal.com in Washington, D.C. At her alma mater, Selyukh also helped in the production of a documentary for NET Television, Nebraska's PBS station.

She received a bachelor's degree in broadcasting, news-editorial and political science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET

Restaurants and bars are reeling from persistent spikes of coronavirus cases and related restrictions in their communities, driving retail spending in December down for the third month in a row.

More than 200 engineers and other workers have formed a union at Google, a breakthrough in labor organizing in Silicon Valley where workers have clashed with executives over workplace culture, diversity and ethics.

Across half a dozen Google offices in the U.S. and Canada, 226 workers signed cards to form the Alphabet Workers Union, the group said on Monday. They are supported by the Communications Workers of America, which represents workers in telecommunications and media.

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Updated at 11:11 a.m. ET

U.S. retail spending declined the most since a historic plunge in April as new coronavirus surges restricted outings to stores and restaurants.

Retail sales dipped 1.1% in November compared with a month earlier, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

However, retail spending — excluding food service — was still up 7.1% when compared with a year earlier, in part thanks to record-setting Black Friday and Cyber Monday online shopping sprees.

A house. Two cars. A kid in college. Debi and Nick Lemieur had all the markers of a middle class life. But they both remember one purchase — Nick's $600 bass amplifier — that prompted one of the biggest fights in their four decades of marriage.

"He didn't tell me he hid it in the trunk of the car, and I found it," Debi says, laughing, 14 years later. "To me it was like, oh my God, how much will this screw with our budget?"

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Yuko Watanabe had to learn a lot of plant names. She lists them with as much confidence as she does her extensive soup menu. Calathea, pothos, Swedish ivy, song of India.

For over a decade, her Yuko Kitchen has fed Los Angeles Japanese comfort food — something like your friend's mom might cook for you after the school, Watanabe says. But this pandemic spring, when streets emptied and her phones grew quiet, a mini-jungle took over the chairs and tables, her cafes pivoting to sell nourishment both for the body and the soul.

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Amazon has launched a pharmacy business, offering to fill prescriptions for delivery by mail.

The retail giant barging in — its biggest foray into health care yet — reverberated through the industry on Tuesday. Shares of CVS were down about 8% at midday, while Walgreens tumbled 9% and Rite Aid 15%.

Prescription drugs are an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars — and more people have turned to ordering medications by mail during the coronavirus pandemic. Analysts say Amazon's move could particularly affect smaller drugstores.

Cheers, honking, cowbell and drum sounds and even confetti filled the air in downtown Philadelphia on Saturday as supporters of President-elect Joe Biden poured into the streets with signs reading: "The People Have Spoken," "Thank Youse" and "Philly Says: Donald Trump, You're Fired."

A reliable Democratic stronghold, Philadelphia had gripped the attention of the nation as Pennsylvania became the state that tipped the presidential election in Biden's favor on the fifth day of ballot counting.

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What is bread? You might as well ask, who's BJ Leiderman, who writes our theme music? But Ireland's Supreme Court has considered the question raised by the case of a Subway sandwich. NPR's Alina Selyukh tore into this story.

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Updated at 10:25 a.m. ET

Jerry D'Agostino had a job but couldn't afford a few things he wanted to do: a meal out once a week, go to the movies, attend Comic-Con. He was working alongside other people with disabilities at a center in Rhode Island, doing what he calls "benchwork" — rote tasks like fitting rings into heating tubes, packaging ice packs, assembling boxes for jewelry.

Updated at 9:03 a.m. ET

U.S. shoppers spent more prudently in August and retail sales grew a tepid 0.6% compared to July, as tens of millions of unemployed people stopped receiving extra federal jobless benefits and families faced a confusing back-to-school season.

Still, retail sales continued to grow, now for the fourth month in a row as people spent more at restaurants and bars and bought more furniture, electronics, cars and clothes. And for the first time in months, online stores saw no growth.

Walmart has teamed up with Microsoft in a bid to buy TikTok in one of the most unexpected twists in the saga of the hugely popular short-form video app.

In a statement, Walmart cited a potential boost from TikTok to the giant retailer's online presence, including its efforts to grow online advertising and a marketplace for third-party sellers.

Getting her daughter ready for the first day of sixth grade, in a normal year, Lidia Rodriguez would have by now spent a pretty penny on a lunchbox, her charter-school uniform and a special backpack, perhaps embroidered with her name: "Sofia."

But why buy a new uniform if last year's top still works for a Zoom call? And why splurge on a new backpack when the walk to school is a shuffle from the kitchen table to the bedroom desk?

In a year of mass work from home, Amazon is zagging by funding a big expansion of corporate office space and jobs in six cities.

For Lynette Gabriel, it started with a dressed-up Zoom brunch with girlfriends. She called in from her home in Oakland, Calif., in a leopard-print long-sleeve gown from the back of her closet. Snacking on smoked-salmon potato hash and sipping on a glass of rosé, Gabriel found her new house fashion.

"We actually now call ourselves 'The Real Housewives of Quarantine' in our house dresses," Gabriel says and chuckles.

It has been about five months since the U.S. economy ground to a halt, thanks to stay-at-home orders imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus. NPR wants to know how the pandemic has affected your job situation, your household finances, your business if you have one and your ability to juggle work and child care.

Millions of people have had to seek unemployment benefits, business loans and other help to deal with the economic turmoil. Some employers have permanently closed their doors. And some schools are telling families to prepare again for distance learning.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STACEY VANEK SMITH, HOST:

A collapse in demand for suits and other office attire is leading another storied retailer across the brink, with the parent company of Men's Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank filing for bankruptcy.

Parent company Tailored Brands had been struggling with debt and flagging demand before the coronavirus pandemic. But the temporary store closures and collapse in apparel sales during the health crisis took their toll.

Lord & Taylor, the oldest U.S. department store chain, has joined the cascade of retailers tumbling into bankruptcy during the coronavirus pandemic. Sunday's filing comes less than a year after Lord & Taylor was acquired by an online clothing-rental startup called Le Tote.

Updated at 8:35 p.m. ET

Spikes in online shopping during the pandemic helped Amazon net $5.2 billion in profits as its sales soared to record highs between April and June.

Updated at 7:19 p.m. ET

Jeff Bezos is a man of many firsts. On Wednesday, he'll face a new one: his first appearance before Congress.

In a hearing via video with other major tech CEOs, lawmakers will grill Amazon's founder about the reach of his company, the rules it sets for workers and the power imbalance with other sellers on its platform.

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

Walmart says shoppers must wear masks inside its stores starting Monday — the largest retailer to join a growing list of companies making face covering mandatory across the nation.

A strange thing happened this spring.

As co-workers began to get sick, essential worker Yudelka LaVigna took an unpaid leave of absence. When she got her unemployment benefits, she realized something unheard of: She was making more money not working.

"That just kind of opens your eyes," says LaVigna, who's now back at her New York call center job for essential services.

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