Cyber Monday's Productivity Loss Is Questionable

By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2007-11-21 Print this article Print

How bad of an impact will slacking employees engaging in online shopping over the holiday season have on workplaces? It depends on whom you ask.

Some estimates are near a half-billion dollars. Challenger, Grey and Christmas, a Chicago-based executive outplacement firm, estimates that on the Monday following Thanksgiving, also known as Cyber Monday, online shoppers could cost employers $488 million as they kick off their holiday shopping season from their cubicles—on company time. Productivity loss will be big, says Challenger, basing its estimates on average salaries and the average number of minutes spent surfing the Web.

But others say it ain't so. In 2005, BusinessWeek called Cyber Monday a "marketing myth," as the Monday after Thanksgiving is actually the 12th biggest online shopping day of the year, according to ComScore Networks.

It's not even the first big day of the season. For most online retailers, the bigger spending day of the season to date was way back on Nov. 22, three days before Black Friday. What's more, most e-tailers say the season's top spending day comes much later, between around Dec. 5 and Dec. 15.

However, in what psychology would term a self-fulfilling prophecy, Cyber Monday is beginning to fulfill its own marketing hype, as some people respond to "news" that it's a big shopping day by doing just that.

So does this mean that every employee will have their heads down at their desks on Monday? Far from it, even Challenger admits, saying it's really no big deal.

"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," said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. |

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