A weekly round up of the hottest international retail and consumer news.

1. Starbucks experiments with cashless outlet

Global coffee chain Starbucks has started testing a cashless system at a location in its home town, Seattle. The store accepts only card and phone payments. A Starbucks spokesman says the test will help the group understand how cashless forms of payment could affect its customer experience.

2. Amazon chooses finalists for second headquarters

E-commerce giant Amazon has narrowed the search for its second headquarters to 20 options — from 238 bids. The Seattle-based company plans to invest as much as US$5bn in development and create 50,000 jobs wherever it builds its newest hub. The list now includes Chicago, Dallas, New York and Atlanta.

3. Halo Top deal off the table

Consumer-products giant Unilever, which owns Magnum, Ben & Jerry’s and Breyers ice-cream brands, has reportedly backed out of buying fast-growing niche ice-cream maker Halo Top. Halo Top, whose tubs display the number of calories it contains, bills itself as "low-calorie, high-protein and low-sugar". It is owned by US business Eden Creamery.

4. Nestlé sells US operation to Ferrero Rocher

Swiss food group Nestlé has agreed to sell its US confectionery business to the Italian firm Ferrero Rocher for $2.8bn. Ferrero’s brands include Nutella, Kinder and Tic Tac. Nestlé’s US unit has been underperforming rivals like Hershey and Mars for years. Consumer preferences have also been shifting towards healthier snacks like "clean" snack bars. The business represents about 3% of the Swiss company’s US sales.

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