The Impact of E-Commerce on Small Business During COVID-19

Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted virtually all aspects of our daily lives. Zoom meetings have replaced conference room gatherings. Kids attend classes from kitchen tables. Family movie nights are likely to involve a first-run film streamed to a television, not a trip to the local cinema.

The retail sector certainly has felt the upheaval of the pandemic. But despite what some may think, not all of the news is bad. Retailers have found new ways to connect with, and serve, customers, particularly through e-commerce. Retail sales numbers for Q3 and Q4 2020 prove that customers are willing to spend both on line and in stores — but their expectations for the shopping experience have changed.

In order to keep pace with this new reality of retail shopping (which isn’t going to revert back to pre-pandemic norms even when COVID-19 is in check), retailers

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Pentagon chief urges immediate reduction in Taliban violence

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in his first news conference as Pentagon chief, said Friday that progress toward peace in Afghanistan and an end to U.S. military involvement there depends on the Taliban reducing attacks. He said, right now, “clearly the violence is too high.”

He refused, however, to say when the U.S. will decide if it will meet the May 1 deadline for full troop withdrawal, or if America and its NATO allies will try to renegotiate the peace deal with the Taliban and keep some troops there longer.

“We are mindful of the looming deadlines, but we want to do this methodically and deliberately,” Austin said. “But we’re focused on making sure that we make the right decisions, and we’ll go through this process deliberately.”

Afghanistan is shaping up as a major national security dilemma for Austin and the rest of President Joe Biden’s fledgling national

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School mindfulness programs try to calm ‘storm of stresses’

A small group of sixth-graders filtered into socially distanced seats on a recent Wednesday in a classroom at Pleasant Hills Middle School — a room whose very design indicated that this would be a different sort of class.

Overhead, instead of the glare of fluorescent lights, muted colors were backlighting cutouts in the shape of clouds. Floor lamps and decorative lights created a calming effect. In opposite corners of the room, smaller arrangements of seats offered comfortable settings where students could drop in during the day, collect their thoughts and relax.

Various affirmations were posted: “In a world full of doing, doing, doing, it’s important to take a moment to just breathe.” And: “Wherever you go, there you are.”

For some of the students, this was their first in an occasional set of classes in the “Chill Room.” Instructor Shelly Meier calmly greeted them with a brief explanation.

“The main

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Hospitals still ration medical N95 masks as stockpiles swell

Mike Bowen’s warehouse outside Fort Worth, Texas, was piled high with cases of medical-grade N95 face masks. His company, Prestige Ameritech, can churn out 1 million masks every four days, but he doesn’t have orders for nearly that many. So he recently got approval from the government to export them.

“I’m drowning in these respirators,” Bowen said.

On the same day 1000 miles (1,600 kilometers) north, Mary Turner, a COVID-19 intensive care nurse at a hospital outside Minneapolis, strapped on the one disposable N-95 respirator allotted for her entire shift.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Turner would have thrown out her mask and grabbed a new one after each patient to prevent the spread of disease. But on this day, she’ll wear that mask from one infected person to the next because N95s — they filter out 95% of infectious particles — have supposedly been in short supply since last March.

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