Alina Selyukh

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

Pages