November 27, 2005
Cyber Monday: Are You Shopping at Work?
Posted by Gordon Smith

Online purchases last week were up substantially over last year, but the big test comes today: Cyber Monday. According to the comScore, online sales on Black Friday were up 22% over 2004. (See W$J for more on this.) Why the expected increase on Monday? Because people will have access to high-speed internet connections at work. This is from WaPo:

Industry experts say consumers spend their weekends window shopping, talking to friends, and getting ideas about what they need and want. Then they head back to work, where they have high-speed Internet connections and tempting moments of downtime. Many workers say they put in such long hours at the office, it's the only time they can shop online. At home, there's just too much to do.

ComScore reports that 58% of online purchases are made by people at work, with the heaviest hours in the mid-morning (10:00-11:00 am) and just after lunch (1:00-2:00 pm). Meanwhile, a survey found the following:

[M]ore than one third of consumers (37%), or 51.7 million people, said they will use Internet access at work to browse or buy gifts online this holiday season. The survey found that more than half of young adults 18-24 (51%) and nearly half of those 25-34 (49%) will be shopping online during work hours. The survey also found that men (42%) are more likely than women (32%) to shop at the office.

I didn't find any surveys reporting the time spent shopping online, but check out the WaPo article, where two people claim that online shopping consumes only 10 minutes. If they are telling the truth, they should win some sort of award for most efficient online purchasers. Should employers worry about productivity? Here is a "workplace expert" from USA Today:

"There's a blurred line between work and personal life," he says. "Employees take work home and check their BlackBerrys while commuting." While "there will be some productivity lapses in the traditional sense," he says, they likely won't be significant. "When employees fall behind, they tend to make up a lap later."

Or how about this from Miguel Gamiño Jr., president and CEO of Varay Systems, an El Paso technology services company: "Shopping online takes less time than going to a store physically, so in the end it can help productivity."

All of this sounds like collective delusion to me, though I am hardly a role model for productive computer use.

UPDATE: If you subscribe to the W$J, you might find this "Holiday-Sales News Tracker" of interest. This concept: "Updated regularly with the latest holiday-sales figures, how individual retailers are doing and other developments." Nice feature.

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