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.

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.

This year got off to a busy start for Daphne and Alex. After almost five years together, they got married. Daphne was training for a new job at a local theater in Colorado. Alex was juggling gigs as a motion-graphics freelancer and a barista.

Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus has become the first department store chain to declare bankruptcy during the coronavirus pandemic. Its fall is foreboding to other chains, whose financial distress predates the health crisis, such as J.C. Penney.

Allie Clancy is technically still a college student. She's a senior at Lasell University in Massachusetts. But she doesn't really feel like she goes to school anymore.

She's graduating in May, but the ceremony is postponed. Maybe until the fall. Maybe until next year.

"You kind of just dream of [graduation] since your freshman year because ...[you see] people take their senior pictures around campus and picking out their dresses and getting to celebrate with their family and friends," Clancy says.

With millions of Americans out of work and its stores temporarily closed, J.Crew is heading for bankruptcy. It could be the first of several retailers to crumble during the coronavirus pandemic under financial troubles that predate the crisis.

For grocery delivery worker Willy Solis, the last straw came when the app Shipt changed his pay — in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

It wasn't the first time that Shipt, owned by Target, had tinkered with that formula. Solis had complained about smaller paychecks and lack of pay transparency. But now he and others like him were putting their health on the line to do their work. Solis decided he had to take action. From his home in Denton, Texas, he logged on to Facebook and started organizing a nationwide walkout.

Neftali Dubon is used to seeing miles and miles of containers stacked up and down and back to back.

After all, he's a truck driver at some of the busiest ports in the country — Los Angeles and Long Beach — both shipping hubs for Chinese imports. But when the coronavirus lockdowns idled Chinese factories at the beginning of the year, drivers like Dubon were the first to start seeing their work dry up.

"I've never seen what I'm seeing now," he says. "Places where we would have stacks of containers, it's just ... empty."

Updated at 7:15 p.m. ET

Amazon may have violated federal safety standards for providing "inadequate" protections to warehouse workers in New York, the state attorney general's office says.

In a letter to Amazon obtained by NPR, the office of New York's top lawyer Letitia James says the company may have also broken the state's whistleblower laws for firing a warehouse worker who helped organize a protest in Staten Island.

Amazon warehouse employees had been able to take unlimited unpaid time off during the coronavirus pandemic. But starting May 1, Amazon will instead ask workers who want to stay home to use their regular accrued time off or request a leave of absence.

Perla Pimentel lives in Orlando, Fla., home to Disney World and other popular resorts. She was an event coordinator who suddenly found herself with no events to coordinate in March. The tourist mecca has been especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We could tell that the company was hurting because we were watching all of our clients cancel," she says. "You don't really expect it to happen to you."

As a dog walker and pet sitter, Beverly Pickering relies on people not being home.

In fact, 70% of her business relies on people traveling. She's usually busiest during this time of the year — near Detroit, where she lives, lots of folks head out for spring break or to shake off their winter blues.

Instead, she's down to a few clients who are still paying her even though they don't need a dog walker. That, she says, is the thing that has kept her from panicking even as she's having flashbacks to the Great Recession, when she lost much of her retirement money.

Amazon warehouse workers are staging a nationwide protest against the company, an action that could be the largest yet targeting Amazon's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Searching for work right out of college is always hard. Now try doing that in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and an economic meltdown.

Many students have lost income: jobs on campus or around town. They've lost internships, which help them build resumes. Now they are entering the workforce at a time when 22 million are filing for unemployment.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says "vastly more" COVID-19 testing is needed for the U.S. economy to reopen, while his company is building its own lab to potentially begin its own testing of all workers.

"We have begun assembling the equipment we need to build our first lab and hope to start testing small numbers of our frontline employees soon," Bezos wrote in a letter Thursday to the shareholders.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

Retail spending is in a free fall — nosediving a record 8.7% last month — as more companies continue to furlough workers and stores, malls and restaurants remain shuttered across the country during the coronavirus pandemic.

The March drop was the largest monthly fall since the Commerce Department began tracking retail sales three decades ago. The previous record was a 3.9% drop in November 2008, during the Great Recession.

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.

Some runners are are still jogging outside, while others are posting joke videos about sprinting in place on soapy floors. Weightlifters are filling bags with canned goods and shoulder-pressing milk jugs. But what's a swimmer to do?

"Yeah, it's difficult. They call them dryland exercises," says Lauren Anneberg, a volunteer coach at the Capital YTri triathlon team in Washington, D.C.

Walmart faces a wrongful-death lawsuit from the family of a worker who died of coronavirus complications, one of two such deaths reported at the same Chicago-area store.

The legal complaint, one of the first such cases publicly known against the retailer, alleges that Walmart failed to properly respond to symptoms of COVID-19 among several workers at the store. It also alleges the company failed to share this information with workers and to safeguard them with gloves and other protections, or to enforce appropriate distancing, among other measures.

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