Online Christmas Could Cost Britain Billions Experts Warn

Monday, 29 November 2010

The growing popularity of online shopping, combined with the fledgling recovery, could cost British businesses billions in the final month before Christmas, experts have warned.


Today has already been dubbed Manic Monday* by online retailers expecting Brits to spend a staggering £537million over the Internet in just 24 hours.


But while that may be good for e-tailers, businesses everywhere are footing the cost of the trend to shop online through poor productivity as workers go gift-hunting from their desks.


Peter Mooney, an employment law expert with compliance advisors, ELAS, warns that between now and Christmas, that lost time will amount to a bill of £2.5billion for UK Plc.


He said: "Every year, more people are going online for Christmas presents, and even those who don't will end up spending hours window shopping on the internet.


"So while internet retailers might expect to be manic, for those employers whose staff are doing the shopping from the desk, today will be anything but.


"In fact, we expect British businesses to lose around £275million in lost productivity today, and around £2.5billion in total between now and Christmas."


ELAS expects full-time workers to spend an average of 30 minutes a day shopping from their desks in the run up to Christmas. Working on an average hourly wage of £12.97, that could amount to a total of £2.475billion in lost time during the next 18 working days to December 22.


"If this was restricted to people's lunch hours, then most employers would have no complaint," explained Mr Mooney.


"But it's not. In fact, even those who leave the office and shop on the High Street during their lunch hours are spending valuable time looking for ideas or comparing prices from their desks when they should be working.


"No boss wants to shoot a hole through goodwill and office morale by playing Scrooge in the office, but this time adds up and, in reality, costs money."


To combat the problem, employers should remind staff of their responsibilities - and what better time to do that than the busiest day of the year for online shopping, suggested Mr Mooney.


"A simple internet policy outlining what is acceptable personal use during work time, together with what action staff can expect for breaching that, circulated on Manic Monday should be enough for most staff to toe the line.


"Without that, not only could bosses lose a lot of work time to bargain hunting, they could come unstuck legally for taking excessive action when they do deal with it."




* Monday, November 29, 2010 was christened by Manic Monday by Kelkoo and the Centre for Retail Research, which estimated it would be the busiest online shopping day of the year with £537million spent - up nearly 30% on last year.