Report: Cyber Monday lifts retail, sinks productivity
November 20, 2007
• Online shoppers could spend $700 million
• But employers could lose $488 million
The Monday following Thanksgiving kicks off the online holiday shopping season and, if last year is any indication, e-tailers could see $700 million or more in sales by the end of the day.
Unfortunately, this may be partially offset by lost productivity with many Americans doing at least some of their online shopping at the office, according to an estimate today from the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc.
It says productivity losses on the so-called “Cyber Monday” could amount to $488.4 million based on the number of “working” online shoppers, their average salary and the average number of minutes spent surfing for the best deals on holiday gifts.
Challenger says the impact of online shopping on an employer’s bottom line is dampened in a technology-driven, information-based economy where people can work from anywhere anytime and output cannot be measured using the traditional “widgets per hour” formula.
“However, one cannot deny that online shopping can be a distraction in the workplace, especially around the holidays. Just ask any supervisor who walks in on an employee researching the latest DVD players on Amazon.com,” says John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
“That being said, unless online shopping causes deadlines to be missed or Internet performance to suffer, companies should not attempt to crack down on the practice. Doing so could negatively affect morale and loyalty, which ultimately will have a greater impact on the bottom line than a few minutes of cyber shopping,” he says.
Challenger says its estimate on productivity lost is based on the average earnings of internet shoppers and the amount of time spent online. According to data from Forrester Research, the average multi-channel shopper (someone who shops online in addition to visiting stores and using catalogs) earns $74,302 annually. In a 40-hour work week, that breaks down to $7.12 every 12 minutes which, according to market research company Media Screen, is the average amount of time broadband users spend in a typical weekday shopping online, says Challenger.
“Employers should not get too worried,” Mr. Challenger says. “In the real world, workers are not paid by the minute and are not expected to be producing output – whatever that may be – every minute of every day. If someone actually misses a deadline on Cyber Monday, chances are that employee has bigger issues than online shopping.”