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.

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.

Before Amazon took down Parler, the messaging app favored by far-right activists, Amazon says it flagged dozens of instance of violent and hateful posts that Parler "systematically failed" to remove.

The two companies are facing off in court after Amazon's decision to stop hosting Parler took the website offline on Monday. Parler remained unavailable on Wednesday morning. Its app was also blocked by Google and Apple.

Facebook, Microsoft and Google have joined a growing list of big banks and other major companies that are pausing their political spending following last week's violent attack on the U.S. Capitol.

One after another, corporate responses have escalated. Some companies have suspended donations to lawmakers who objected to the certification of the presidential election. Many have halted all of their political donations for a few months. A few have gone so far as to support the removal of the president.

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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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ... hand sanitizer, a spray can of Lysol, a big box of TP and a cleaning gizmo for keys and phones.

All year, cleaning products have been flying off the shelves — now, they're flying straight into Christmas stockings and wrapping paper. Holiday-season sales of sanitizing wipes and sprays have doubled this year, according to Nielsen. Sales of hand sanitizer have more than quadrupled.

Updated at 2 pm E.T.

Amazon workers at an Alabama warehouse are getting closer to holding a vote on whether to form the first U.S. union at one of America's largest employers — a groundbreaking possibility closely watched by the company's ballooning workforce.

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?"

U.S. shoppers are on track to spend more than $755 billion during the holiday shopping season in what's expected to be a new sales record despite the coronavirus recession.

In fact, this year's Cyber Monday promises to become the largest online sales day in history. During the peak hour of 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Pacific time, shoppers could spend $13 million per minute, according to Adobe Digital Insights, which tracks online spending.

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.

Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Ala., have notified federal labor authorities of their plans to hold a unionization vote, teeing up a potentially groundbreaking labor battle at the retail giant known for its opposition to unionizing.

A filing, posted by the National Labor Relations Board, says Amazon workers at the fulfillment center outside of Birmingham want to form a bargaining unit of all 1,500 full- and part-time employees at the facility, to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

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.

Updated at 9:13 a.m. ET

Shoppers kept buying electronics and home improvement supplies, but October proved a month when much of the retail world held its breath. Retail sales barely budged, inching up just 0.3% from September, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

Rebounding from near-collapse in the spring, retail spending has improved since the summer, even topping pre-pandemic levels. In October, overall retail sales were up 5.7% compared with a year earlier.

Updated at 3:06 p.m. ET

European Union officials are accusing Amazon of breaking EU competition rules by exploiting the data the company collects from other sellers on its platform for its own benefit. These are the first formal charges against the tech and retail giant in a spate of antitrust investigations around the world.

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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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

All right, we're going to turn now to NPR's Alina Selyukh, who is in Philadelphia covering this latest news. Good morning, Alina.

ALINA SELYUKH, BYLINE: Good morning.

When Diana Newcomb looks back at a retail job she had in the 1970s, it sounds bonkers. She and other 20-somethings would sit in the office of a Rhode Island department store and tally sales stubs by hand. They would note sales in a ledger, like this: five pairs of boys size 6 Levi's — sold.

"I was renting a garage apartment and living off of canned vegetables and Triscuits," she says and laughs. "You know, I thought I was being independent. I was at that point."

Plywood window coverings have blanketed high-end shopping areas of big U.S. cities ahead of Tuesday's election.

It's an eerie sight in a country built on the idea of a peaceful transition of power. In fact, that kind of signal is exactly why city authorities have generally advised business owners not to board up, promising stepped-up security measures.

Walmart is returning guns and ammunition back to its shelves after removing them from display as a safety precaution, citing this week's "isolated civil unrest."

What exactly did Abbie Welch put in her purse before she snuck out of a Walmart in Knoxville, Tenn.? The court ruling doesn't say.

Nor does it matter. What matters is a piece of paper she'd previously received from Walmart banning her from the store. Prosecutors used it to argue she was trespassing when she shoplifted. Her crime, typically a misdemeanor, was elevated to a burglary. She became a felon with a six-year sentence.

Updated at 9:57 a.m. ET

Shoppers bought more clothes and cars, and even returned to beleaguered department stores in September.

Updated at 8:23 p.m. ET

In a sweeping report spanning 449 pages, House Democrats lay out a detailed case for stripping Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google of the power than has made each of them dominant in their fields.

The four companies began as "scrappy underdog startups" but are now monopolies that must be restricted and regulated, the report from Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel says.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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.

Shay Chandler did not plan to buy what seemed like the last full-sized refrigerator in all of San Antonio. When her old one broke a few weekends ago, she discovered she'd have to wait almost two months for a replacement.

"I found out that all I could buy was a mini fridge," she said. "It's nuts. ... All the Lowe's all over San Antonio — and San Antonio is a very large city — everyone was out."

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 is officially launching a new rival to Amazon Prime: an annual membership service giving shoppers free delivery of groceries and other perks.

Walmart+ will cost $98 a year or $12.95 a month. Its offer centers on free delivery of food and other items from nearby stores "as fast as same-day." Other perks, which the company expects to expand, include a discount on gas at the company's stations and the ability to pay by mobile phone to skip checkout lines at stores.

A group of 52 Black former McDonald's franchisees is accusing the fast-food giant of discrimination, alleging they were "denied equal opportunity to economic success" compared to their white peers.

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