Business & Real Estate

Local business operators’ Cyber Monday shopping rule: your time, your devices

This June 18, 2014, photo shows the app that links to shopping on Amazon.com on an Amazon Fire phone.
This June 18, 2014, photo shows the app that links to shopping on Amazon.com on an Amazon Fire phone. Associated Press file

Over the past decade, Cyber Monday has become a holiday shopping season giant, but Sacramento-area employers have a generally united approach when it comes to their workers shopping online on the milestone day: Do it on your own time and on your own devices.

“Really, it’s beyond the control of the employers, but I think the reality is that (workers) are just using their phones to do it anyway,” said longtime local auto dealer John Driebe He heads ForAnyAuto Group, which sells Nissan, Infiniti and Mazda vehicles in Elk Grove Automall. “I think that we’re realistic in terms of doing it during lunch or during breaks or after hours. But not during working hours.”

By some estimates, more than 75 percent of U.S. workers took the time on Monday to order at least one item online, taking advantage of discounts and deals offered by many retailers.

Cushman & Wakefield projected a $668.1 million loss in worker productivity related to Cyber Monday.

When the counting is done, the day is expected to ring up more than $3 billion in sales nationwide, but just how many shoppers logged on to retail sites from their work computers during work hours is subject to speculation.

The Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation offers a clue.

The NRF projected that 122 million Americans planned to shop online on Cyber Monday, with more than 28 million people doing it from their mobile devices and 98.6 million using their computers at home. The federation estimated that 11.2 million shopped from their computers at work.

Some quick math tells you that there is some wiggle room in those numbers. How many workers shopped from a work computer during business hours? How many shopped during a lunch break or coffee break? How many used a mobile phone from their workplace, and when?

The elusive answers may never be known, but analysts said the staggering numbers provide ample evidence of the allure that Cyber Monday possesses since it began in November 2005.

The allure can be summed up in one word – deals.

“On Cyber Monday, retailers deliver online discounts unlike any other day of the year, driving consumers to shop online no matter where they are or what device they’re shopping from,” said Matthew Shay, the NRF’s president and CEO. “Millions of consumers shopped over Thanksgiving weekend and reserved a portion of their budgets exclusively for Cyber Monday, knowing that there will be digital deals that are too good to pass up.”

However, that situation creates a challenge for employers who want workers to concentrate on their jobs – particularly in the service industry sector – and not that 30 percent off and free shipping deal that just popped up online.

Virginia Varela, president and CEO of Sacramento-based Golden Pacific Bank, said she understands the draw of Cyber Monday but expects employees to use common sense.

For starters, Varela noted, “we’re a bank … and we have to be rally careful with confidential information. We have to pretty much lock down our system.”

“But,” she added, “our staff can go and do their owner personal shopping, using their own personal equipment during breaks or lunch.”

Varela, who has significantly developed the bank’s small business loan program since taking Golden Pacific’s top executive posts in January 2014, added that employees are encouraged to shop at small businesses in the Sacramento area.

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover

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