Staff plan to use work time to search for retail bargains

Two thirds of employees (67 per cent) will use paid time to surf the web for both Black Friday and Christmas shopping, research finds.

Some 42 per cent of employees own up to putting aside work time during last Black Friday to chase the deals and 27 per cent confess to wasting more than an hour of paid time in one sitting for Christmas presents, according to a study by

As a result of misused working hours, a small business could lose many hours of productivity over the weeks leading up to Christmas. With National Minimum Wage now at £7.20 per hour, this will be a significant waste of wages for small and larger businesses alike.

According to one managing director, who wishes to remain anonymous, ‘Last year one of my employees was underperforming. We noticed she spent a lot of time reading her screen with not much action, which wasn’t what her job was supposed to involve.

‘After checking the browser history we found in total she had wasted 47 hours in five weeks on her personal Christmas shopping while being paid to work. We’d missed opportunities in the business because of this, so had no option but to let her go.’

Some businesses traditionally allow an extra hour for lunch for Christmas presents shopping to help employees beat the rush. Employers such as EDF energy host inhouse shopping events inviting local retailers into their head office to give workers a chance to browse.

Chris Meredith, CEO of says, ‘Most office managers let employees have all their online deliveries sent to work. This is helpful for employees but during very busy times like Christmas it must be a burden on reception staff.

‘If someone has something delivered and colleagues see it, they’ll be reminded they need to get their shopping done too and be tempted to have a ‘quick look’ online. Collectively the impact of one quick look can result in many lost man hours across the business.’

Some £24 billion was spent online during Christmas 2015 and an estimated 180 million hours will be spent browsing for gifts this year.

Further reading on productivity

Ben Lobel

Delphine Hintz

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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