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 April 9, 2021 at 1:28 PM ET

Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama will not be forming a union.

The vast majority of votes cast by Amazon's workers in Bessemer, Ala., were against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union in a stinging defeat of the union drive. The final tally showed 1,798 votes against unionizing and 738 votes in favor of the union.

Saks Fifth Avenue is going fur-free, becoming the latest fashion seller to take animal-fur clothes and accessories off its shelves.

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America has been sorted. There are "winner-take-all" places and "left-behind" places — and the two are increasingly isolated, struggling to comprehend the divide.

This is the story that unfolds in Alec MacGillis' Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America. Ostensibly about Amazon, the book is instead an economic history of the country, shaped by an intimate introduction to people living and working in Amazon's shadow as their home cities and states transform around them.

Updated at 8:28 p.m. ET

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will step down as the company's chief executive officer this summer, after more than a quarter-century at the helm of the retail, logistics and tech powerhouse.

Even before Amazon built its warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., local officials called it a game-changer.

The mayor said it was the largest single investment in the 130-year history of the city. Birmingham's working-class suburb is a shadow of the steel and mining hub it used to be. Amazon jobs, paying more than double the state's minimum wage of $7.25, promised a shot in the arm.

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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.

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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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."

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.

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?

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.

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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.

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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."

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.

Kroger, the largest U.S. grocery chain, has teamed up with the largest U.S. retail and food workers union in urging national and state officials to designate grocery employees as "extended first responders" or "emergency personnel."

The goal is for grocery workers to get a higher priority for COVID-19 testing and access to safety gear like masks and gloves and other protections. Stores have struggled particularly to access a steady supply of masks, which are in shortage. Health workers and other first responders are also desperate to get them.

Amazon is putting new grocery-delivery customers on a waitlist — among several new measures the retailer is trying to keep up with a crush of demand for food deliveries during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company also announced plans to expand its hiring by 75,000 full- and part-time jobs. That's in addition to the 100,000 workers Amazon added in recent weeks.

Updated at 6:01 p.m. ET

Some Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island, N.Y., and Instacart's grocery delivery workers nationwide walked off their jobs on Monday. They are demanding stepped-up protection and pay as they continue to work while much of the country is asked to isolate as a safeguard against the coronavirus.

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Many industries are furloughing or firing workers, but some are hiring. NPR's Alina Selyukh has the story.

ALINA SELYUKH, BYLINE: Despite all the shutdowns and lockdowns, Americans still need food and medicine, and that means some companies are actually hiring, at least temporarily - supermarkets like Kroger and Albertsons, pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens and retail giants like Amazon and Walmart.

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Special hours for seniors to shop are just one of the ways grocery stores across the U.S. are adjusting their operations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Supermarkets are restricting their opening hours to give workers time for cleaning and restocking. They're also limiting how many items people are allowed to buy. And they're adding special designated hours when only seniors and others most vulnerable to the coronavirus are invited to shop.

Georgie Williamson's first scrunchie moment came the day she was born. In 1989 her mother was in labor, wearing a black velvet scrunchie with a bow. And the daughter grew up a believer — "a scrunchie gal," as she puts it.

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