Business Stories of the Week: Friday, Dec. 8, 2017

by December 8, 2017

Dollar General is finding success expanding its selection of snacks and frozen foods. (Photo via Flickr user Mike Mozart)

Dollar General increases food sales

With the retail industry in turmoil, discount chain Dollar General is building success. One of its main strategies, according to the Washington Post, has been food. Over the last five years, the company has expanded snack and beverage options, as well as doubled the amount of freezer space in its stores. Some remodeled stores are even offering fresh food. It’s all helped attract more middle class and affluent shoppers at locations across the country. To meet the new demand the company is opening 900 new locations next year and will remodel another 1,000. The plan has paid off as well, with sales increasing 11 percent in the most recent quarter.

General Electric cuts jobs

Shifting dynamics are roiling global energy conglomerates — the latest example coming as General Electric announced Thursday it will cut 12,000 in its power division, the New York Times reports. The move from new leadership at the company is part of a plan to eliminate bloat. The cuts will shrink the division’s work force by 18 percent and save $1 billion as G.E. hopes to reduce cost by $3.5 billion this year and next across its businesses.

Instagram tests standalone messaging app

Yet another standalone messaging app may be coming to your smartphone. Instagram is currently testing an app called Direct that lets users share private messages, photos and videos with friends, CNN Money reports. What makes it different than the private messaging already available on Instagram? The app opens directly to the phone camera instead of a list of messages, which is similar to Snapchat. It also has a number of unique filters that are not available on the Instagram app.

CVS to buy Aetna

In what is among the biggest healthcare mergers of the past decade, CVS Health Corp. will buy Aetna Inc. for more than $67 billion. The deal will combine the largest U.S drugstore chain with the third-biggest health insurer, leaving CVS with a hand in everything from insurance to drugstores, according to Bloomberg. Including the assumption of Aetna’s debt, the deal will be valued at $77 billion and is expected to close in the second half of 2018.

Farmers faced with bleak future

In an incredibly moving feature, The Guardian examined the bleak reality many farmers face in the United States and around the world. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that people working in agriculture, including the likes of farmers, farm laborers and ranchers, take their lives at a rate higher than any other occupation. The numbers are startling around the world as well, with one farmer a week taking their own life in the United Kingdom and one every two days in France. While there are believed to be a number of causes behind the crisis, the financial struggles family farms have faced over the years can’t be ignored. Since 2013, net farm income for farmers in the U.S. has dropped 50 percent and the median income for 2017 is projected to be negative $1,325.