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.

Retailers had placed much hope on a big midsummer shopping spurt, but July proved to be somewhat lackluster, amid renewed lockdowns and new waves of coronavirus cases. Retail sales grew only 1.2% last month compared to June.

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.

When former McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook was fired for a consensual relationship with a subordinate last year, he left with an exit payout estimated over $40 million. Now, McDonald's is suing him for that money, citing new evidence of additional relationships and accusing him of lies and fraud.

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.

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 7:17 p.m. ET

Some of the world's most powerful CEOs are coming to Capitol Hill — virtually, of course — to answer one overarching question: Do the biggest technology companies use their reach and power to hurt competitors and help themselves?

Here's what you need to know:

Who: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

The parent company of Ann Taylor, Loft, Lane Bryant and other clothing brands is joining the parade of apparel retailers to file for bankruptcy during the coronavirus crisis.

The firm Ascena Retail Group — whose stores are a major tenant of malls and shopping centers — did not specify how many locations it will close.

Stores around the U.S. are struggling with an unexpected shortage. (No, not toilet paper — sorry, we've already made that joke.) They're running low on coins.

Retail sales jumped 7.5% in June, giving stores and restaurants a boost, and spending on clothing doubled. But that came before a new surge in coronavirus cases prompted renewed shutdowns in several states.

Last month, spending ticked up 1.1% from a year earlier — the first annual increase since the pandemic began to hammer the economy, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

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.

The exodus of major advertisers from Facebook continues to grow as the company weathers criticism over its handling of racist, violent and other hateful rhetoric on the platform.

Target is raising its starting wage to $15 an hour, making permanent a $2 salary bump the company gave its U.S. workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated at 3:49 p.m. ET

Aunt Jemima will change its name and logo, acknowledging the brand's origins rooted in a racial stereotype, which hearkens back to nostalgia for the South in the times of slavery.

Toward the end of 2020, the 130-year-old pancake and syrup brand will remove the image of "Aunt Jemima" from packaging, parent companies Quaker Foods and PepsiCo said on Wednesday. The name change will follow.

Updated at 4:53 p.m. ET

As more states and cities allowed restaurants and shopping centers to reopen, U.S. retail spending swung big in May, climbing 17.7%, the U.S. Commerce Department said Tuesday. Major stock indexes rose after the report was released.

After long resisting calls for Jeff Bezos to testify in Congress, Amazon says it will make its founder available for a hearing this summer alongside other CEOs. Lawmakers summoned Bezos as part of a wide-ranging inquiry into the market power of U.S. tech giants.

Giving someone a facial is one of the more intimate jobs out there: leaning over someone else's face, treating it, massaging it.

"To be totally honest, a lot's going to have to happen for me to feel comfortable giving facials in person," says Hawaii-based facialist Nicole Burke Stephenson. "I'm questioning whether or not I'll ever use a steamer again because it blows people's breath into my face."

Hero pay. Thank You pay. Service pay. Hazard pay.

These were the many names for temporary pay bumps that some stores, warehouses and factories gave to workers who risked their health to continue to show up on the job during the pandemic.

It's hard to say that an extra $3 an hour made a dramatic difference in Sammy Сonde's budget. Maybe a few more groceries — soup is a dinner favorite — or an occasional treat of a takeout meal after a particularly tiring workday.

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

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

Macy's losses during the coronavirus pandemic might mount to $1.1 billion in its first quarter. The company's warning Thursday is the latest highlight of a widening gap in retail between big sales of "essential" stores that remained open during the health crisis versus clothing and other "nonessential stores" that had to close.

The preliminary earnings report from Macy's echoed the pain felt at many other department stores and retail chains revealed in the first wave of financial disclosures since the pandemic began.

Bartolomé Perez has made countless vats of fries and flipped more burgers than he cares to remember in his 30 years of working at a McDonald's in Los Angeles.

In that time, he's joined several strikes to demand higher wages and better benefits for workers. But the stakes felt very different during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are between life and death," Perez says, speaking in Spanish. "You know that every time you go out, it could be your last ... it could be the most expensive hamburger you make in your life."

As Target remained open during the coronavirus pandemic, the surge in demand online and in stores made an average April day comparable to a peak holiday-season Cyber Monday sale.

Pier 1 Imports — one of America's most prominent home-decor chains — is packing it in.

The company, known for its colorful housewares and wicker furniture, declared bankruptcy in February. The coronavirus pandemic forced temporary closures of its approximately 540 stores and dashed its hopes of a recovery.

As the largest retail chain that remained open during the coronavirus pandemic, Walmart became a huge draw for shoppers. Its sales skyrocketed both in stores and online as people stocked up on food and necessities, as well as supplies to work out, teach, play and work from home.

The retailer says it hired a whopping 235,000 new workers during the health crisis to keep up with big demand at stores and warehouses.

NPR is reporting on how the pandemic has upended every inch of our financial lives, from our ability to make money to how we spend it.

Millions of people have had to seek help from the government, whether it's unemployment benefits or business loans. Some have put off major life decisions because of the economic turmoil.

Now, some states are easing stay-at-home restrictions. And we want to know: Are you ready and able to go back to your normal work and social life?

Please fill out the form below. An NPR reporter may reach out to you for a story.

Updated on May 17 at 10:55 a.m. ET

Cynthia Murray has worked at a Walmart store in Maryland for nearly 20 years, most of them as a fitting room associate.

Her 64th birthday was fast approaching when the coronavirus pandemic hit and Walmart workers were suddenly "essential." Murray started worrying about her health and wondered whether she should keep working every time she looked at customers who came into the store.

Updated at 9:31 a.m. ET

In a historic collapse, retail spending in the United States nosedived again last month, dropping a record 16.4% as people avoided restaurants, bars, stores and malls during the coronavirus pandemic.

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