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Yesterday, we crunched thousands of pizza prices from around the country, and argued that you should always buy a bigger pizza. (And in a separate post, we presented the case against buying a bigger pizza.)

So far this year, retail chains have announced some heavy cuts. J.C. Penney said it would close 33 stores. Macy's said it would lay off 2,500 workers. Sears will close its flagship Chicago store in April.

That's creating a glut of excess space. But that's just one of several forces changing the face of retail.

Saying it is "the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health," the CEO of CVS Caremark announced Wednesday that the company's 7,600 pharmacies will stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products by Oct. 1.

Larry Merlo also said CVS will try to help those who want to quit smoking with a "robust national smoking cessation program" at its locations.

The holiday season data breach at Target that hit more than 70 million consumers was part of a wide and highly skilled international hacking campaign that's "almost certainly" based in Russia. That's according to a report prepared for federal and private investigators by Dallas-based cybersecurity firm iSight Partners.

And the fraudsters are so skilled that sources say at least a handful of other retailers have been compromised.

"The intrusion operators displayed innovation and a high degree of skill," the iSight report says.

The luxury retailer Neiman Marcus says it has begun notifying customers whose credit cards were compromised during a security breach.

The AP spoke to Ginger Reeder, spokeswoman for Dallas-based company, who would not estimate how many customers could be affected.

Though hackers did obtain "strongly encrypted PIN data" when they got into Target's information systems, the retailer said Friday that sensitive information from customers' debit cards should not be at risk.

Target posted this explanation:

Update at 8:20 p.m. ET. Amazon, UPS, Offer Refunds:

The Washington Post reports:

"Amazon and UPS said Thursday they would offer refunds to customers who did not receive their Christmas orders on time, after a surge in last-minute online shopping caught the shipping giant off guard."

Malls Are Dying, Long Live the Mall!

Dec 24, 2013
jpellgen / Flickr Creative Commons

Thanksgiving is this week and as the holiday shopping season comes upon us, we’ll look at one of the iconic American institutions: the shopping mall. We’ll talk with a writer at The Atlantic Cities who says that despite how engrained it is in our culture, the mall is preparing to retire. We'll also hear a class piece from radio producer Jonathan Mitchell. He produced a soundscape of his hometown mall called "City X."

At least 11 customers have filed lawsuits against Target over a security breach that exposed the credit card information of 40 million customers.

The BBC reports:

"The lawsuits, each seeking class-action status, have been filed in US courts in the past several days.

Target is trying to get back in its customers' good graces after a massive data breach affecting some 40 million credit and debit account holders. The giant retail chain offered its customers a 10 percent discount over the weekend as an act of atonement, but business was said to be down anyway.

The breach affected customers who used their credit and debit cards at one of Target's 1,750 stores during a three-week period after Thanksgiving.

Back in ye olden days — say, a decade ago — many holiday shoppers worried about using credit cards to buy gifts online. They feared their information would end up in the hands of computer hackers.

Turns out, walking into a store and swiping a credit card can be plenty risky, too.

Target Corp. acknowledged early Thursday that there was a massive security breach of its customers' credit and debit card accounts starting the day before Thanksgiving and extending at least to Dec. 15 — the heart of the holiday shopping season.

What Happens To Failed Shopping Malls?

Dec 2, 2013

Successful malls can be some of the most bustling places in America: enclosed commercial districts that are “people magnets,” with packed parking lots and a variety of popular shops, department stores and restaurants.

But over the years, online shopping and a roller coaster economy have turned many malls into ghost towns.

From the Here & Now Contributors Network, David C. Barnett of WCPN examines the afterlife of some malls in Northeast Ohio.

Harriet Jones

Black Friday is rapidly approaching, and ads from the national chains and the big box stores are hard to ignore. But once again this year, small retailers are hoping to catch a slice of the holiday shopping action.

Traditional shopping malls took a big hit after the economic collapse. Problems at big retailers Sears and J.C. Penney — two of the biggest mall tenants — could signal even more troubles.

But malls are trying to adapt. As online shopping grows, things are getting more and more competitive out in the real world of brick-and-mortar retail.

aldenjewell, creative commons

Most of us have gone through the process of buying an automobile. It can be both exciting and excruciating. And sales are up to almost pre-recession levels. A boom caused by “more widely available credit, an increasingly aged fleet, and a host of new models.”

J Holt

As they contemplate the first anniversary of super storm Sandy, some shore dwellers have given up and moved inland. Others are still determined to rebuild and continue. One shoreline restaurant is about to embark on its second major comeback.

Ildar Sagdejev / Wikimedia Commons

Puppies and kittens are a big draw at pet stores. Their cuteness draws customers in and helps pet store owners make money. However, that may not be the case in the future. A state task force is holding the first of two public hearings on Wednesday on whether to ban the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy on Friday defended state borrowing that will help finance the opening of Bass Pro Shops at Steelpointe Harbor in Bridgeport. The state will invest more than $30 million to bring the sporting goods retailer to anchor the long-delayed commercial development.

Keno Gets Closer; Anchoring Bass Pro; Rail Headaches

Sep 27, 2013
Nazox / Wikimedia Commons

Connecticut has been dancing around the idea of keno for a while now. The state made another move across the room to commit some spending that would help to bring keno to hundreds of locations in the state. Meanwhile, the bond commission is working to get Bass Pro Shops in place in Bridgeport, and miserable commuters continue to cope with a broken Metro-North. Read about it in today's Wheelhouse Digest.

Chion Wolf

Most of us have gone through the process of buying an automobile. It can be both exciting and excruciating. And sales are up to almost pre-recession levels. A boom caused by “more widely available credit, an increasingly aged fleet, and a host of new models.”

The Wheelhouse Goes Downtown

Sep 24, 2013
Chion Wolf / WNPR

We took our weekly political roundtable, The Wheelhouse on the road! We broadcast from a vacant storefront on Trumbull Street in downtown Hartford as part of the city’s iConnect project. The conversation started off with Mayor Pedro Segarra and reporters from the Hartford Courant and Hartford Business Journal joined in with their own questions for the mayor.

Hartford Storefront Project Running Months Late

Sep 18, 2013
iConnect/Hartford

In the spring, the city of Hartford launched the iConnect program, meant to fill vacant storefronts with new businesses. It's an idea that's been tried - with some success - in cities like New Haven, but Hartford's "Pop-up Storefront" has taken months longer than expected.

Traveling Vintage: Boutique on Wheels Opens in Connecticut

Jul 25, 2013
Jillian Lyons

Burlington Mom's Products Reach Whole Foods

Jun 3, 2013

When her husband's work relocated their family to Connecticut, Ada Rios' primary job was raising her toddler. Shortly after she began to develop the skin condition eczema. It forced her to rethink her entire beauty regimen. 

What's Up With Stuff?

May 10, 2013
Mike Baird (Flickr Creative Commons)

Seventeen days after a garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh, a woman was pulled alive from the rubble. But more than 1,000 people have been confirmed dead in the tragedy.

This has renewed questions about where all the stuff we buy in America comes from.

NPR’s Planet Money has been trying to tackle this question for the last three years by making their own t-shirt.

Wikimedia Commons

When GE Capital announced it will no longer finance gun purchases at small firearms dealers, it predictably drew both praise and criticism. But the company’s own explanation of the move seemed to raise more questions than it answered. 

Sujata Srinivasan

Almost six months after Superstorm Sandy, some businesses are still fighting to get back on their feet. Pop’s Grocery, a 52-year-old corner store in Bridgeport, was inundated by floodwater during the storm. As part of her series on recovery after Sandy, WNPR’s Sujata Srinivasan went back to visit.

alancleaver_2000 / Creative Commons

Connecticut residents will have to start paying sales tax on purchases from Amazon.com later this year. As WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, the web giant has plans to site a distribution facility in the state.

Development in Downtown Hartford

Jan 18, 2013
Global Jet, Creative Commons

Driving through downtown Hartford, you’ll see a lot of empty storefronts, plenty of parking garages, and some impressive high rises. And while the city has a hard time getting businesses to fill the office space - now at 26% vacancy -- developers can’t build housing fast enough to meet demand.

In fact, several of those old office buildings are being retrofitted for new housing. So people are voting for downtown housing with their dollars, but is there enough retail to keep feet on the street?

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