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Retailers Revisit Mask Debate After New C.D.C. Guidelines

Updated guidance from the government on pandemic precautions has put retailers in a position they thought they were past: deciding whether or not to mandate masks for customers and employees.The new recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call for wearing masks again in places where the virus is spreading fast and cover nearly two-thirds of U.S. counties. Just two months ago, the agency said fully vaccinated people could remove their masks. But the Delta variant of the coronavirus has changed the safety equation and the guidelines.Some companies responded swiftly. Apple announced on Wednesday that …

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China’s Growth Slows as Pandemic Fears Persist

BEIJING — After a year of leading the global economy out of the pandemic slump, China’s growth is now starting to level off, as the world tries to assess whether the country’s recovery will continue or peter out.The signs are mixed, with consumers and companies showing signs of both weakness and strength. The rising cost of raw materials is eating into the profits of factories and retailers, while exports remain strong. People are shopping more, but small businesses are suffering. Inflation is starting to make a comeback, muddying the data. And the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic weighs …

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Target Store Closings Show Limits of Pledge to Black Communities

BALTIMORE — When Target announced that it was opening a store in Mondawmin, a predominantly Black neighborhood in this city struggling with crime and poverty, it seemed like a ticket to a turnaround.And from the start, it was a practical success and a point of community pride. The store, which opened in 2008, carried groceries, operated a pharmacy and had a Starbucks cafe, the only one in this part of Baltimore’s west side.People came from across the city to shop there, helping to soften the Mondawmin area’s reputation for crime and the looting that followed protests over the 2015 …

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What Are We Going to Wear?

A festive cape, draped from your shoulders, paired with a dress and glitzy heels while you sip on mulled wine. That’s the sort of scene Macy’s was envisioning for holiday parties in 2020, before the reality of Zoom nights in living rooms.“We really felt good about this dress-up opportunity, people really feeling glam,” said Nata Dvir, Macy’s chief merchandising officer. “We were thinking about outerwear being as bold as capes.”Bloomingdale’s, which is owned by Macy’s, had forecast “a mix of utility and romanticism,” which would have included puff sleeves, eyelets and maxi dresses, said …

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Victoria’s Secret Swaps Angels for ‘What Women Want.’ Will They Buy It?

The Victoria’s Secret Angels, those avatars of Barbie bodies and playboy reverie, are gone. Their wings, fluttery confections of rhinestones and feathers that could weigh almost 30 pounds, are gathering dust in storage. The “Fantasy Bra,” dangling real diamonds and other gems, is no more.In their place are seven women famous for their achievements and not their proportions. They include Megan Rapinoe, the 35-year-old pink-haired soccer star and gender equity campaigner; Eileen Gu, a 17-year-old Chinese American freestyle skier and soon-to-be Olympian; the 29-year-old biracial model and inclusivity advocate Paloma Elsesser, who was the rare size 14 woman on the …

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Retail Sales Fell in May, in Latest Sign of a Bumpy Recovery

Retail sales fell slightly last month, the Commerce Department reported on Tuesday, another sign of the uneven recovery of the American consumer during the pandemic.The 1.3 percent decline in May follows months of ups and downs in retail spending.After falling to record lows a year ago, sales bounced back sharply in the spring, only to swing from month to month, driven by the ebb and flow of government stimulus and the persistence of the virus. The data from April was revised on Tuesday to show an increase of 0.9 percent.Still, economists said that the broader recovery remained on track. …

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Netflix Online Shop to Sell Products Tied to Shows Like ‘Lupin’

There will be “Lupin” pillows and Netflix-branded boxer shorts.There will be caps, necklaces, charms and hoodies, all of it for sale at Netflix.shop, a site that goes live on Thursday, when the world’s biggest streaming company plants a flag in the territory of e-commerce.The shopping site gives Netflix a new way to bring in cash after a quarter in which its explosive growth showed signs of slowing down in the increasingly crowded field of streamed entertainment, one that now includes a formidable rival in Disney+.Unlike some of its competitors, including Hulu and HBO Max, Netflix, …

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Amazon Battles Mukesh Ambani for India’s E-Commerce Future

Indian officials have kept silent about Amazon’s fight with Reliance, but they have pressured the American company on other fronts. The Reserve Bank of India and the Enforcement Directorate, India’s federal crime-fighting agency, are investigating Amazon for suspected violations of India’s foreign investment laws. Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart are also fighting a legal battle to stop the Competition Commission of India, the country’s antitrust regulator, from pursuing a formal investigation into their sales practices.In a statement, Amazon said that company officials “take compliance with all applicable laws and policies seriously” and that it was …

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Can the Pandemic Rescue Britain’s Shopping Areas? This Town Hopes So.

POOLE, England — Hope Dean is loyal to Poole, her hometown in southwest Britain, but she acknowledges that its shopping district has often been a source of embarrassment.Just a few miles from the most expensive coastal real estate in the country, Poole’s main shopping street is a tired mix of video game shops, coffee shops, small chain stores and lots of markets selling secondhand items that have attracted a dwindling number of shoppers.Perhaps the worst section over the years was Kingland Crescent, a forgotten stretch tucked under the shadow of a shopping center, described by Ms. Dean as “ …

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For Many Workers, Change in Mask Policy Is a Nightmare

“Retailers were asking and requiring you to wear masks,” said Willy Solis, a shopper for the delivery app Shipt in Denton, Texas, who works in stores like Target, Kroger and CVS. “A large majority of people were still doing the right thing and wearing them.”Since the C.D.C. announcement, however, “it’s been a complete shift,” Mr. Solis said. Denton, like Yorktown, sits in a county that supported former President Donald J. Trump by a single-digit margin in the November election.According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 97 percent of Democrats said in a March poll that they wore …

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