Employment law experts, ELAS, has warned that the increasing trend of UK retailers offering ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ discounts could cost the UK economy hundreds of millions in lost productivity as employees rush to grab a pre-Christmas bargain during work time.
Although traditionally a popular post-Thanksgiving treat for Americans, Black Friday and Cyber Monday now represents the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, with popularity quickly gathering momentum in the UK after the annual sale event was introduced to British shores through US online retailers such as Amazon.
A reported four million items were purchased on Black Friday on Amazon UK last year. British retailer John Lewis also recorded an unprecedented volume of traffic to their website between 7am and 8am – 14 times higher than the usual number of visitors to the site.
According to calculations undertaken by ELAS, this year’s sales could cost businesses £177 million* in lost productivity, as workers are enticed to ditch work in favour of saving money at the tills during the two-day event.
On the prospective impact on business productivity, ELAS consultant, Head of Consultancy, Peter Mooney says: “Unlike in the US, Black Friday and Cyber Monday fall on normal working days in the UK, so the temptation is there for employees to take time off. Workers should not see this as an opportunity to miss work and grab bargains. If employees wish to take time off to do their Christmas shopping, they should use their annual leave to do so.
“In order to mitigate any risk of productivity loss, it is vital that employers have clear internet ‘usage at work’ procedures and absence policies in place that are communicated with clarity.”
Peter Mooney adds: “In terms of internet policy, it is a good idea to have engaged content filters on work computers to prevent employees from accessing retail websites.”