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    Coronavirus update: U.S. buys more vaccines, Congress deadlocks on stimulus payments

    Tyson Foods is beefing up medical support at processing plants

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

    Total U.S. confirmed cases: 4,496,737 (4,447,648)

    Total U.S. deaths: 152,074 (151,077)

    Total global cases: 17,334,539 (17,084,446)

    Total global deaths: 674,038 (668,250)

    U.S. paying another $2.1 billion for vaccine doses

    The U.S. government is writing another big check to drug companies for a potential coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will receive $2.1 billion for 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine they are developing.

    Much of the money will be used to continue development of the vaccine, including clinical trials. The rest will pay for manufacturing and delivery of the 100 million doses. After that, the government has the option to order 500 million more doses.

    “The global need for a vaccine to help prevent COVID-19 is massive, and no single vaccine or company will be able to meet the global demand alone,” said Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and global head of Sanofi’s vaccine division.

    No agreement to extend $600 a week jobless benefit

    With the clock running out, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have failed to reach agreement on legislation to extend the extra $600 a week jobless benefit that expires at midnight tonight.

    The two parties are mostly in agreement on the major bullet points of a new aid package, but the additional unemployment benefit most out-of-work Americans have been receiving since April has emerged as the major sticking point.

    Democrats support extending the bonus payments through January, arguing that the generous payments have kept the economic collapse caused by the pandemic from being even worse. Republicans argue that many benefit recipients are getting more money than when they were working and have no incentive to look for a job.

    Tyson Foods beefs up medical support at meat plants

    Tyson Foods has announced that it plans to hire a chief medical officer, as well as 200 nurses, and implement stringent coronavirus testing for employees at 140 meat production facilities. The move came as the Food & Environment Reporting Network reports that more than 10,000 Tyson employees had tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic. 

    The COVID-19 monitoring strategy was designed with the assistance of outside medical experts and includes ongoing, data driven COVID-19 testing of workers without symptoms. It also addresses those who exhibit certain symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has the virus.

    “While the protective measures we’ve implemented in our facilities are working well, we remain vigilant about keeping our team members safe and are always evaluating ways to do more,” said Donnie King, Tyson Foods group president and chief administrative officer. 

    The pandemic has fanned retirement worries

    The COVID-19 pandemic threw a big monkey wrench into the financial plans of millions of Americans, especially when it comes to retirement plans. About 38 percent of Americans in a survey by Nationwide report that there has been some detrimental effect.

    Nearly 20 percent of respondents say the financial disruption caused by the coronavirus means they’ll have to keep working longer. About 10 percent express doubts about ever retiring at all.

    "Americans are facing complex retirement scenarios as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and market volatility," said Tina Ambrozy, senior vice president of Strategic Customer Solutions at Nationwide. "On top of this, adults across generations lack a basic understanding of Social Security benefits and ways to maximize those benefits."

    The NBA tries to salvage its season

    The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the second major sports league to try to salvage what’s left of its season after it was suspended in late February by the coronavirus. 

    The Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers got things started last night in a mostly empty arena, with the Lakers winning 103-101. More games are scheduled for tonight.

    Games are being played amid stringent safety protocols, but Major League Baseball (MLB) has already found that doesn’t always work. The baseball season got off to a rocky start when 14 players on the Miami Marlins tested positive for the coronavirus during the first week.

    Around the nation

    • New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced a number of positive statistics. Hospitalizations dropped to 586 Thursday, a new low since March 17. The number of patients in intensive care units fell to 142, the lowest number since mid-March.

    • Washington: The state has placed new limits on restaurants and bars as cases of the coronavirus move higher. Alcohol can’t be served after 10 p.m., and restaurants can’t seat more than five people at a table.

    • Virginia: Tourist spots in the state, including Williamsburg and Virginia Beach, will take an economic hit because several states have added Virginia to quarantine lists. After being under control for weeks, Virginia coronavirus cases have moved sharply higher.

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 4,496,737 (4,447,64...
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    General Motors working with EVgo to add more fast chargers for electric vehicles

    The companies are aiming to accelerate the adoption of EVs

    General Motors has teamed up with electric vehicle charging network EVgo to build nearly 2,700 new fast chargers in cities and suburbs across the U.S. Consumers will be able to access the new chargers over the next five years. 

    The automaker said Friday that EVgo currently has 800 fast chargers on its network which serve “more than 200,000 customers” across 34 states. GM is planning to triple that number of chargers to serve even more customers and fuel the adoption of electric vehicles. 

    GM said “highly visible areas” in 40 different metropolitan markets have been chosen as locations for the new fast chargers. Most will be able to charge at least four vehicles at the same time at rates of between 100kW to 350kW. 

    “We need millions of EVs on the road to make a meaningful impact (on reducing emissions),” said GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra. “We know how important the charging ecosystem is for drivers, one that includes access to convenient and reliable public fast charging.”

    Increasing adoption of EVs

    The partnership comes at a time of rapid expansion among makers of other fast-charging networks, like Tesla, which has 2,000 Supercharger stations worldwide. Volkswagen has 452 stations in the U.S. as part of its new Electrify America network. 

    “Our relationship with EVgo will bolster the public fast charging network available to EV customers ahead of increased market demand and reinforce our commitment to an all-electric, zero-emissions future,” Barra said. 

    General Motors has teamed up with electric vehicle charging network EVgo to build nearly 2,700 new fast chargers in cities and suburbs across the U.S. Cons...
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      CVS, PayPal, and Venmo strike deal to offer touchless checkout

      All that’s needed is a phone and an app

      CVS Pharmacy announced Friday that it has cut a deal with PayPal and Venmo to become the first national retailer to integrate those digital pay services in its checkout experience. 

      As the pandemic continues to gallop across the U.S., cautious consumers are likely to love the new process, which allows them to securely pay for their items without needing to touch a keypad or sign a receipt. 

      "In the midst of COVID-19, we have seen an incredible acceleration of digital payments and touch-free payments," said Mark Britto, Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer, PayPal. 

      "Companies of all types and sizes are looking for ways to maintain the safety of their customers and employees, especially through touch-free experiences like curbside pickup and enhanced online shopping. QR codes complement these and provide retailers an additional payment method that furthers this touch-free mission and continues the growth of digital payments for all partners in the ecosystem."

      How to use the new process

      For consumers who are used to using mobile payment and digital wallet services like Apple Pay and Google Pay, using PayPal and Venmo QR Codes should be a snap. With the PayPal or Venmo app, the only thing you need to touch when you pay in-person is your own phone.

      With the app installed, shoppers will have the ability to pay using stored debit or credit cards, bank accounts, PayPal balance, or PayPal Credit. For Venmo users, they can pay using their stored debit or credit cards, bank account, Venmo balance, or Venmo Rewards. As a bonus for consumers who don’t like fees, PayPal says it will not charge fees to the customer when paying with the PayPal or Venmo QR codes.

      "PayPal and Venmo QR codes offer our customers a secure and touch-free way to complete their purchase with a payment brand they know and trust," said Jon Roberts, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of CVS Health. "This reflects our continued focus on innovation and finding new ways to help maintain the safety of our customers and employees."

      PayPal and Venmo QR codes will roll out at each of the pharmacy chain’s 8,200 standalone U.S. stores in the fourth quarter of 2020.

      CVS Pharmacy announced Friday that it has cut a deal with PayPal and Venmo to become the first national retailer to integrate those digital pay services in...
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      Amazon reports huge surge in sales due to the coronavirus pandemic

      The company said its online grocery sales tripled in the second quarter

      In its second quarter earnings report, Amazon said a pandemic-related surge in consumer demand resulted in a tripling of its online grocery sales compared to the same quarter last year. 

      The company said it had to increase grocery delivery capacity by more than 160 percent to meet demand during the unexpected health crisis.

      “This was another highly unusual quarter, and I couldn’t be more proud of and grateful to our employees around the globe,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. 

      Surge in business

      While buying was initially focused on consumables and groceries, consumers eventually shifted to buying a more normal mix of products as the pandemic continued. Amazon said third-party sales increased by 52 percent year-over-year during the quarter, while first-party sales increased 48 percent year-over-year. 

      Shipping times were significantly slower at the start of the pandemic. Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky said on a call with analysts that shipping rates have returned to a somewhat normal rate but are still “probably considerably behind the going rate before any of this happened.” 

      Amazon said it ramped up spending on equipment and services to keep its employees safe. 

      “As expected, we spent over $4 billion on incremental COVID-19-related costs in the quarter to help keep employees safe and deliver products to customers in this time of high demand—purchasing personal protective equipment, increasing cleaning of our facilities, following new safety process paths, adding new backup family care benefits, and paying a special thank you bonus of over $500 million to front-line employees and delivery partners.” 

      Amazon expects its overall sales in the third quarter to amount to between $87 billion and $93 billion, which would represent an increase of around 24 to 33 percent compared to the third quarter of 2019. 

      The company also confirmed on Thursday that its Prime Day sales event, which typically takes place in July, will now be held in the fourth quarter due to the coronavirus pandemic. Amazon said it's working closely with its selling partners to ensure the event goes smoothly. 

      In its second quarter earnings report, Amazon said a pandemic-related surge in consumer demand resulted in a tripling of its online grocery sales compared...
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      Gas prices remain stable as motorists curb their driving

      The summer driving season hasn’t really materialized this year

      Consumers continued to enjoy stable gasoline prices this week as many cars remained parked and demand for fuel continued to fall.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular gas is $2.18 a gallon, nearly the same as last week and 53 cents a gallon less than last year at this time. The average price of premium gas is $2.80 a  gallon, a penny more than last Friday. The average price of diesel fuel has remained at $2.43 a gallon for several weeks.

      At midweek, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, Patrick DeHaan, reported falling usage, with demand on Tuesday 6 percent lower than seven days earlier. 

      The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported this week that energy use in April, when Americans were sheltering in place, plunged to a 30-year low. Since then, consumers have literally kept their foot off the gas.

      “Pump prices are mostly pushing cheaper across the country as gasoline demand wanes over the past few weeks,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA’s spokesperson. “Gas prices are likely to fluctuate throughout the rest of the summer due to COVID-19 concerns, with the national average possibly reaching $2.25.”

      When prices fluctuated this week, it was mostly to the downside. Prices fell a few cents a gallon in Michigan, Indiana, and North Carolina. 

      The states with the most expensive gas

      These states currently have the highest prices for regular gas, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey:

      • Hawaii ($3.23)

      • California ($3.17)

      • Washington ($2.80)

      • Oregon ($2.66)

      • Nevada ($2.65)

      • Alaska ($2.52)

      • Colorado ($2.44)

      • Pennsylvania ($2.41)

      • Idaho ($2.40)

      • Illinois ($2.38)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

      The survey found these states currently have the lowest prices for regular gas:

      • Mississippi ($1.83)

      • Louisiana ($1.86)

      • Texas ($1.88)

      • Arkansas ($1.89)

      • Alabama ($1.89)

      • Missouri ($1.90)

      • Oklahoma ($1.90)

      • South Carolina ($1.91)

      • Tennessee ($1.93)

      • Kansas ($1.97)

      Consumers continued to enjoy stable gasoline prices this week as many cars remained parked and demand for fuel continued to fall.The AAA Fuel Gauge Sur...
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      Jamaican Tastee Patties recalls meat and poultry patties

      The products were produced without undergoing inspection

      Jamaican Tastee Patties of Miami, Fla., is recalling approximately 60,457 pounds of meat and poultry patties.

      The products were repackaged, relabeled and sold without undergoing federal inspection.

      The firm also applied the mark of inspection of another federal establishment without proper authorization.

      There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The baked and unbaked, frozen beef and chicken items, produced on from September 2018, through July 2020, are being recalled:

      • 18-oz. boxes containing 4 pieces of “AUTHENTIC Jamaican STYLE TASTEE Patties JERK CHICKEN TURNOVERS BAKED” with various sell-by dates represented on the label.
      • 18-oz. boxes containing 4 pieces of “AUTHENTIC Jamaican STYLE TASTEE Patties BEEF TURNOVERS SPICY BEEF BAKED” with various sell-by dates represented on the label.
      • 18-oz. boxes containing 4 pieces of “Jamaican STYLE TASTEE Patties TURNOVERS CURRY CHICKEN BAKED” with various sell-by dates represented on the label.
      • 18-oz. boxes containing 4 pieces of “AUTHENTIC Jamaican STYLE TASTEE Patties BEEF TURNOVERS MILD BEEF BAKED” with various sell-by dates represented on the label.
      • 112-oz. (7-lb.) cases containing 24 pieces of “Authentic Jamaican STYLE TASTEE Patties BEEF TURNOVERS SPICY BEEF UNBAKED” with various sell-by dates represented on the label.
      • 112-oz. (7-lb.) cases containing 24 pieces of “Authentic Jamaican STYLE TASTEE Patties BEEF TURNOVERS MILD BEEF UNBAKED” with various sell-by dates represented on the label.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 2390” or “P-2390” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to retail and restaurant locations in Florida.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but discard or return them to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions may contact Lance Williams, at (305) 878-2716 or by email at lanceprt@bellsouth.net.

      Jamaican Tastee Patties of Miami, Fla., is recalling approximately 60,457 pounds of meat and poultry patties. The products were repackaged, relabeled an...
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      Over 40 percent of U.S. renters face the threat of eviction, analysis finds

      With unemployment checks being cut drastically, the pandemic makes for a perfect storm

      Come Friday, the $600 government unemployment checks that nearly 25 million American adults have been getting will come to an end, possibly to be replaced by $200 checks. That $400 difference has all the signs of putting a big hurt on consumers. 

      One of the biggest hurts shows up in people’s homes and apartments. Not only are unemployed consumers facing a threat of losing their homes by the end of the month, but the Federal Eviction Moratorium has also expired, putting more than a quarter of all U.S. renters at risk of eviction. 

      “Together with the cut in unemployment benefits, a perfect storm is on the horizon for America's renters,” says Statista data journalist Niall McCarthy. 

      McCarthy points to an analysis from global advisory firm Stout Risius Ross. The firm estimates that upwards of 40 percent of renter households across the U.S. will feel the pinch of being able to pay the rent at some point in the pandemic. On top of that, close to 12 million people are facing the prospect of eviction sometime between August and December 2020. On top of all that, monthly rents continue to grow, clouding the future even further.

      Statista’s analysis found that the eviction situation differs markedly from state to state. West Virginia has the highest estimated share of renter households facing the threat of eviction at nearly 60 percent. Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Mississippi are all at 50 percent or higher. 

      The states with the lowest risk of eviction are Vermont, where 22 percent of people could lose their homes, Massachusetts (27 percent), Washington (28 percent), and Utah (29 percent).

      Where things stand on Capitol Hill

      White House advisor and Director of the United States National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, has hinted that an extension of the moratorium might be in the works, but its expiration has allowed landlords to push forward and file eviction notices. 

      Congressional Democrats introduced legislation earlier this week to address evictions. However, despite it being a valiant effort, it is the fourth volley House Democrats have made, and the previous three were never brought to a vote.

      In the Senate, Republicans introduced the HEALS Act stimulus bill, which includes another round of stimulus checks, but there’s not a single mention of eviction relief for renters in the bill. 

      “Housing is a human right, and in the face of an impending eviction tsunami, we must take bold, urgent action to affirm that right and protect the millions of families facing housing instability,” said Congresswoman Pressley (D-MA). 

      “By guaranteeing legal representation for families at risk of eviction, limiting the adverse effect of eviction filings on tenants’ credit reports, and requiring more thorough data collection on the eviction crisis nationwide, this bill will help families remain safely in their homes during this pandemic and avoid evictions.”

      Come Friday, the $600 government unemployment checks that nearly 25 million American adults have been getting will come to an end, possibly to be replaced...
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      Four ‘Big Tech’ CEOs defend their business practices to Congress

      Lawmakers are suggesting that these companies are too big and powerful

      Consumers have increased their reliance on large technology companies over the last decade, and that reliance has been even greater during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. But many in Congress -- both Republicans and Democrats -- are worried that these companies are too big and powerful.

      The CEOs of Amazon, Alphabet (Google), Apple, and Facebook testified Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee to answer pointed questions from lawmakers.

      The executives have testified before Congress in the past about privacy issues. Wednesday’s questioning focused mostly on the expanding role these firms have in consumers’ lives and whether that role has simply gotten too big.

      “Our founders would not bow before a king,” said subcommittee chairman Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.). “Nor should we bow before the emperors of the online economy.”

      Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg all defended their respective business practices and all declared that they have plenty of competition in the marketplace.

      Internal documents cited

      But lawmakers, armed with background research, argued that the various companies’ internal documents sometimes tell a different story. In particular, lawmakers challenged Zuckerberg on Facebook’s acquisition of rival Instagram, which is favored by younger consumers.

      Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y) cited an email in which Zuckerberg described Instagram as a threat to Facebook’s growth before his company bought it in 2012. Nadler said that was a good example of an “anti-competitive acquisition” that antitrust laws were supposed to prevent. Zuckerberg replied that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) during the Obama administration had access to that document when it gave its approval to the acquisition.

      Google, meanwhile, was accused of holding too much power to direct web traffic, but Pichai insisted there is plenty of competition in the area of web search.

      Cook was challenged about Apple’s dominance in app development, but he assured lawmakers that developers are treated fairly. Bezos, making his first appearance before Congress, defended Amazon’s role in the retail marketplace and said his company has plenty of competition.

      Some in Congress have suggested that large technology firms should be broken up, though none appeared to go that far during the five-hour grilling. If they had, the CEOs would likely have pointed out their size and power have served consumers’ interests fairly well, especially over the last four months.

      Consumers have increased their reliance on large technology companies over the last decade, and that reliance has been even greater during the coronavirus...
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      United Airlines says it might have to furlough more pilots

      The big question is whether Congress will step in with more COVID-19 relief money for the airline industry

      No more than two weeks after United Airlines reportedly had come to terms with a pilots union over early retirements and voluntary furloughs, it said that it may have spoken too soon. The company now says there may be more furloughs on the way given the bleak future of travelers returning to the not-so-friendly skies.

      Earlier this month, United told a third of its staff -- about 36,000 employees -- that their job security was iffy at best. Earlier this week, the airline prodded its employees a little further toward considering either voluntary leave or a buyout, extending the deadline for those options into August. Originally, United had plans to furlough about a third of its pilots before 2021. However, that forecast has also changed. 

      “We may need to furlough more pilots in 2020, and in 2021, than originally planned,” Bryan Quigley, United’s senior vice president of flight operations, said in a note to employees.

      Will Congress step in again?

      Congress has been working on another coronavirus relief package, but there doesn’t seem to be anything in that deal for the airlines. CNBC reports that more than 200 lawmakers and airline labor unions are pushing Congress to grant an extra $32 billion in payroll support so that the airline industry can protect jobs at least through the end of March 2021.

      “It is clear that Congress must act to extend the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act which has helped to prevent widespread layoffs of aviation workers to date,” insisted Capt. Joe DePete, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA).

      Airlines haven’t formally asked Congress for additional aid. CNBC reports that executives at both American and United are “walking a fine line on the issue,” but both airlines back the unions’ efforts. In United’s case, Quigley said additional aid or cost-cutting agreements with unions could mitigate furloughs.

      No more than two weeks after United Airlines reportedly had come to terms with a pilots union over early retirements and voluntary furloughs, it said that...
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      Helicopter parents could alleviate stress by giving kids more independence

      A study suggests that giving kids more freedom can be just as beneficial for parents

      While researchers have found that helicopter parenting can make kids less independent as they grow up, a new study is exploring how parents themselves are affected by these habits. 

      According to researchers from Edith Cowan University, stress levels are likely to decrease when helicopter parents give their kids more room to explore on their own and don’t interfere as often. 

      “As parents we tend to go and ‘save’ our children when they start to struggle with something, instead of letting them try to resolve their own challenges,” said researcher Mandy Richardson. “But if the children aren’t looking for help, perhaps they can be left to do their own thing and work it out themselves.” 

      Encouraging independence

      For this study, the researchers put parents to the test. Over the course of six weeks, parents attended weekly classes for their toddlers where their little ones were encouraged to play with toys and other kids in whatever way they wanted. 

      During the classes, parents were encouraged to follow the Resources for Infant Educators’ (REI’s) recommendations, which highlights the Respectful Approach. This is the mindset that children deserve as much respect and independence as adults give to each other. So, for the entirety of the class, parents let their kids explore on their own without trying to jump in or interfere in their activities. 

      At the end of the six weeks, the parents were the ones who noticed the most improvements from this new approach. The researchers found that in letting their kids be independent, parents felt less stressed and more focused on just engaging with their kids. 

      “Participants in the study reported worrying less about performance pressure after attending the classes, which let them refocus on their relationship with their children,” Richardson said. 

      Ultimately, the goal is that giving kids this kind of freedom from a young age will make these skills even sharper as they grow and develop. The study findings suggest that the approach is a win-win for both kids and their parents, as parents can adopt better communication habits with their kids from an early age while also reducing their worry in social situations. 

      “Traditionally, early behavioural interventions have predominantly focused on modifying undesirable child behaviors,” said Richardson. “By building good communication and a close parent-child bond, we can potentially prevent problems occurring in the long term.” 

      While researchers have found that helicopter parenting can make kids less independent as they grow up, a new study is exploring how parents themselves are...
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      Dunkin’ to close 800 U.S. locations in 2020

      The coffee and donut chain is shuttering ‘low-volume sales locations’

      Dunkin’ announced on Thursday that it plans to permanently close approximately 800 U.S. locations. 

      In its second quarter earnings report, the chain said the closures are "part of a real estate portfolio rationalization” that involved evaluating its most productive locations.

      Dunkin’ said the closures will affect “low-volume sales locations” that pulled in just 2 percent of its total U.S. sales last year. More than half of the locations slated to be closed this year are in Speedway convenience stores. 

      “For Dunkin’ U.S., same-store sales improved sequentially throughout the quarter, largely as a result of our ability to pivot quickly and introduce new menu items designed to appeal to customers who are now visiting us later in the day,” CEO Dave Hoffmann said in a press release.

      Store closures accumulate 

      In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a number of retailers have announced plans to pare down their store count. Earlier this week, McDonald’s said it would be closing about 200 "low-volume" locations this year.

      Ascena retail group, the parent company of Ann Taylor, LOFT, Lane Bryant, Justice, Catherines, and Lou & Grey announced last week that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Ascena said it would be reducing its footprint by closing a “significant number” of Justice stores, a “select number” of Ann Taylor, LOFT, Lane Bryant, and Lou & Grey stores, and all of its Catherine’s stores.

      J.Crew, JCPenney, Neiman Marcus, and Brooks Brothers have also announced store closures and bankruptcy filings as a result of declining sales.

      Dunkin’ announced on Thursday that it plans to permanently close approximately 800 U.S. locations. In its second quarter earnings report, the chain sai...
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      Consumers are increasingly wary of how corporations handle their data

      A survey suggests that most people want more control over how businesses use their personal information

      As big tech companies get bigger -- and even smaller players dig deeper into consumers’ personal histories -- a survey suggests that the public is becoming increasingly wary.

      A new survey from KPMG shows rising concern among consumers about how corporations use, manage, and protect their personal data. The survey found 56 percent of Americans want more control over their personal data and believe that both corporations and the government must work harder to protect consumer data.

      Privacy appears to be a hot button topic with consumers, particularly when it comes to technology. Ninety-seven percent of consumers in the survey checked the box when asked if it’s an important issue.

      At the same time, the survey suggests that consumers are deeply suspicious of what companies are doing with their data. Well over half --  68 percent -- don't trust companies to ethically sell their personal data.

      "With consumers indicating that they see data privacy as a human right, and new legislation expected in the years ahead, it is critical that companies begin to mature privacy programs and policies," said Orson Lucas, principal, KPMG Cyber Security Services. "Consumer demands for the ethical use of data and increased control over their own data must be a core consideration in developing data privacy policies and practices.

      Facebook and privacy

      Facebook may offer a case in point in how consumers’ personal data gets packaged and sold. The issue burst into the headlines in 2018 when Facebook revealed that a political marketing firm, Cambridge Analytica, had gained unauthorized access to user data to target political ads in 2016.

      There have been other revelations of the misuse of consumer data in the years that followed, including a 2019 disclosure which indicated that as many as 100 app developers retained data from user groups on the platform. 

      In June, Google was sued for allegedly violating the privacy of millions of users by tracking their use of the internet via browsers set to “private” browsing mode. The lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion; $5,000 per user or three times actual damages, whichever is greater, according to the complaint.

      While consumers overwhelmingly believe companies and the government need to do more to protect privacy, the KPMG survey also found consumers have some responsibility in that area too.

      More than 40 percent of those in the survey said they often use the same password for multiple accounts, use public Wi-Fi, or save a card to a website or online store, even though they are aware that it poses a privacy risk.

      "Part of the challenge for corporations will be getting employees and customers to do their part in protecting their own data," said Steve Stein, principal, KPMG Cyber Security Services.  

      As big tech companies get bigger -- and even smaller players dig deeper into consumers’ personal histories -- a survey suggests that the public is becoming...
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