• The Wall Street Journal reports that "the jobs market appears to be returning to growth, with new applications for unemployment benefits falling to the lowest level since November amid other signs hiring is picking up.
"Initial weekly unemployment claims decreased by 111,000 to a seasonally adjusted 730,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was also the biggest drop in new applications for regular state programs since last summer.
"The latest figures came as storms disrupted business in parts of the country and at least one state is adjusting for attempted fraud filings, factors that could have affected the totals. Still, weekly claims have dropped significantly since an early January peak above 900,000 and the four-week moving average, which smooths out volatility in the weekly figures, dropped to 807,750."
• USA Today reports that "Best Buy could close more stores than usual in 2021 as the shift to online shopping accelerates with people more reluctant to venture indoors during COVID-19, CEO Corie Barry said Thursday during the Minneapolis-based electronics retailer's quarterly earnings. The company has approximately 450 leases coming up for renewal in the next three years or an average of 150 each year."
In addition to reconsidering its physical footprint, Best Buy also is taking a hard look at its staffing - earlier this month, it laid off some 5,000 full-time employees " because more shoppers are choosing to buy online instead of coming inside its stores. It will replace the 5,000 full-time employees with 2,000 part-time workers."
“In addition to our physical stores, our operating model needs to evolve to meet our customers' changing shopping behaviors that have been accelerated by the pandemic,” Barry said. “The sudden and lasting shift customers have made to shopping more regularly and seamlessly across all of our channels has forced us to look at how we get our work done.”
• Marketing Daily reports that "Trader Joe’s and Walmart’s Great Value are the 'most loved brands,' offline and online respectively, based on positive conversations and referrals, according to Engagement Labs. "
According to the story, "Other top brands on the offline list include Nintendo Switch (which last year led offline), Oreo, Dove, Minecraft, Lego, Lipton, Dove Men+Care and Nivea … Online, American Family insurance, which topped last year’s list held the number two spot this year. Others in the top 10 are Kirkland, Dove, Garnier Fructis, KitchenAid, Clean & Clear, Frigidaire, Clinique and Fabuloso."