The bottom line
The average American woman wears a size 16 or 18, yet annual spending on plus-size clothing accounts for just 16 percent of the $112 billion apparel market in the U.S.
The New York Times
Cassettes are making a comeback. Last year, cassette sales rose 35 percent, to 174,000 copies, according to Nielsen, up from 129,000 tapes sold in 2016. Cassettes remain an incredibly niche format, comprising just 0.1 percent of all album sales last year. In 2010, cassette sales numbered just 21,000.
Amazon has officially replaced Google as the most valuable brand in the world, according to brand consultancy Brand Finance. Amazon’s brand value is $150.8 billion, an increase of 42 percent from 2016, based on business performance and marketing investment. The second most valuable global brand is Apple, at $146.3 billion. Google is third highest, with a $120.9 billion valuation.
The generous return policy of the outdoor-goods retailer L.L.Bean has cost the company $250 million over the past five years. The company announced last week that in response to growing abuse and fraud, refunds will be available only on items returned within a year, with a proof of purchase. For a century, customers could return or exchange goods no matter the items’ age or condition.
The Wall Street Journal
The number of people who have had their DNA analyzed with direct-to-consumer genealogy tests more than doubled in 2017 and now exceeds 12 million. One in 25 American adults now has access to personal genetic data.
Rural Washington’s Bitcoin boom
“In Wenatchee, Wash., a Bitcoin invasion is underway,” said Alison Sider in The Wall Street Journal. Home to hydroelectric dams that harness the power of the Columbia River, the small town of 34,000 boasts “some of the cheapest power in the U.S.” That’s prompted an influx of Bitcoin mining operations, which require “vast amounts of electricity to run” the thousands of computers needed to mine the digital currency. After last year’s 1,300 percent surge in Bitcoin prices, Wenatchee and nearby counties have been inundated with at least 30 Bitcoin startups. Some have requested power service exceeding 100 megawatts each, “enough power for more than 50 hospitals.” Some residents hope the influx will transform Wenatchee into a tech hub; others worry about a Bitcoin bubble. “It’s hard to know, if you commit a lot of resources to a miner, will they be there in a year?” said one resident.