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Strange Business: Tesco Employees Made to Wear Arm Band Terminals That Track Productivity

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Plus: Here's why you have to pay so much for a Valentine's Day card.

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A Brave New Business World

The owners of a British grocery chain have become a little paranoid about the productivity of their employees. Tesco (NASDAQ:TESO) forces workers at its Dublin distribution center to wear armbands called Motorola (NASDAQ:GOOG) arm-mounted terminals, which track how efficiently individuals unload and scan goods while providing them with a grade, according to reports from the Irish Independent. The digital trackers also record the loading and unloading speeds, and spending time in the bathroom or getting a quick drink will lower your productivity score.

Efficiency doesn't equal quality, though; the horse meat scandal involving grocery stores and Burger King (NYSE:BKW) has also ensnarred Tesco.

Eight Dollars for a Valentine's Day Card?

Couples pay more for Valentine's Day cards than they did a few years ago, but the holiday itself doesn't solely account for the elevated prices. Labor costs for card production have increased in China while remaining high in the US. Plus, Hallmark and American Greetings (NYSE:AM), which together control 90% of the market, need to sell many cards before covering advertising and marketing costs. The duopoly does give the two companies strong pricing power, though, and they elevate prices of normal greeting cards year-long to mitigate the shock of seeing a Valentine's Day card priced at $7.99.

Today, Hallmark expects 151 million cards to be exchanged.

Expensive Puppy Love
Source: CBC.CA

If you found Banana Joe, the champion of the Westminster Dog Show, cute, you'll have to pay $2,500 for another puppy like him, assuming you can even find a dog of the same breed. The Affenpinscher is a rare German dog breed, and only twelve active breeders operate in North America. Plus, the dogs have small litters, sometimes only one puppy, and many don't survive because of health complications due to their tiny size.

Right now, potential owners can only find seven Affenpinscher puppies in the US, and just one has the same black hair as Banana Joe.

Pakistanis Have A Love-Hate Relationship With Valentine's Day

Some more conservative-minded individuals in Pakistan have a problem with celebrating romantic love. Islamists urge people to boycott Valentine's Day, saying the love-filled day just encourages illicit relationships between the unwedded young. Those against the holiday have displayed posters and signs with the words, "Say NO to Valentine's Day" and "Sorry Valentine's Day, I am Muslim."

Despite such protests, young people in cities and from wealthy families mostly celebrate the holiday by buying and exchanging flowers, chocolates, cards, and stuffed toys. The government also tried to curtail Valentine's Day television programing, but TV channels largely ignored the decree.

More Women in Japan Prefer Chocolate Over Men on Valentine's Day

In Japan, women usually give chocolates to the important men in their lives -- but more and more women have decided to keep the sweets for themselves. This year, 24% of women will enjoy chocolate alone versus 21% last year, according to a survey by Printemps Ginza. Companies like Disney (NYSE:DIS) see the business potential in this trend; it has created a page on its Valentine Night 2013 event homepage with ideas just for women and their friends.

Twitter: @ChrisWitrak
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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