Online Shopping: Black Friday, Cyber Monday

handbagsAmericans are still struggling with a weak economy and high unemployment, while Canadians are focused on paying down debt and adjusting to new taxes.  But Christmas has been commercialized to such an extent that there’s no way that tradition of people going into debt to purchase gifts is going to disappear anytime soon.  Gallup reported  November 15 poll results that pointed to the average American household spending 12.9 percent more on Christmas gifts this year than last.

Cash and Carry Christmas

According to a survey from the United Services Automobile Association, which provides insurance to military members and their families, about 90 percent of Americans plan to use cash for their holiday gifts this year. Only 8 percent said they would charge more to their credit cards, while 35 percent said they would use more cash this year than last. The top reasons for using cash were avoiding debt and staying within a budget.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday

handbags1Wedged between Halloween and Christmas, Thanksgiving has slowly given way to Black Friday as the day after Thanksgiving has long been the most lucrative shopping day of all.  An aggressive Internet and retail campaign drove the date to the spotlight in 2006.  Before then, the last weekend before Christmas was usually when the most shopping activity was seen.

handbags2As many as 138 million shoppers are expected to hit stores on this  Black Friday weekend, 4 million more than last year and the most since the National Retail Federation survey began compiling the data in 2006.  — Even With the Web, Black Friday Rules

Welcome to Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday? While not as famous as Black Friday, retailers just a few years ago invented Cyber Monday as a way to create buzz around online shopping.   Cyber Monday is actually a marketing ploy and other shopping days leading up to Christmas are even bigger. — Cyber Monday: Myth and Reality

Holiday shopping online

cybercartHoliday shopping online has been steadily growing in recent years. Many people will start their holiday shopping  when they sit down in front of their office computers.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday have traditionally been American  events but in recent years the trend has begun to catch on in Canada.   More shoppers in both countries are turning to the internet to research products and to compare prices, even if they end up making their purchase in a physical store.

A recent survey by Ipsos Reid, commissioned by PayPal, found that 54 per cent of Canadians plan to do their holiday shopping online this year. That figure jumps to 74 per cent among Canadians 18 to 34 years of age.  The PayPal survey also found that Canadians plan to spend 11 hours holiday shopping. With a portion of that potentially happening online, businesses north of the border are certainly aware of the risk of cyber attack, said Nicky Mezo, head of marketing at PayPal in Canada. — Keep up those defenses for Black Friday, Cyber Monday

Shopping on Company Time

shopbasketProductivity is clearly an important matter for businesses. Typically, enterprises suffer productivity losses during key events throughout the year. Holidays seem to elicit a large decrease in productivity. As employees use the Internet for activities such as shopping, social networking and web surfing, the security threats  increase.

The average employee spends 14.4 hours of online shopping in the workplace over a span of two days and the trend is causing security nightmares, according to a recent survey. Among those polled, the mean amount of time employees planned to spend shopping online was14.4 hours,  One in 10 plans to spend at least 30 hours shopping online at work. Most planned to do their shopping in early to mid-December.

“The potential danger of shopping online is that it can open the door to viruses, spam and phishing attacks that invade the workplace and cost enterprises thousands per employee in lost productivity and potentially millions in destruction or compromise of corporate data,” ISACA officials said in a statement on the findings.  — Shopping on the Job


Do You Need a Virtual Wallet This Holiday Season?

Tens of millions of people use a virtual wallet as an alternative form of online payment — but that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks involved. Here’s what you need to know this holiday season.


Will you be holiday shopping online at work?

22 thoughts on “Online Shopping: Black Friday, Cyber Monday

  1. Thanks for clarifying! I realize that not everything will relate to, but the shopping thing seemed really random.

    1. Hi Bob,
      At this time of the year when it seems the whole world is moving a WARP speed it’s very hard for me to actually make the time to blog. My husband and I have a small busines and I also do contracted work.

      Some of my readers are business bloggers who have small companies. The two big issues they are facing at this time of the year is lack of employee productivity in November and December, and the consequences of employees who shop online at work in terms of computer viruses and malware and other online attacks. These issues are large costs for any small struggling business so the issue is a timely one and I decided to cover it in my last post.

  2. TT, I’m just as interested in reading your comments and replies as your post.
    As someone who is semi-housebound and not working, our shopping enters this house either via my husband who is the main non-cyberspace shopper or via the postal delivery service when I shop online. I am very very careful when I shop online. My main concern is identity theft as I know someone who suffered this and the results and consequences of it were appalling. I double check everything, I never ever buy from sites that don’t give good valid information, and even ones which I know well get my attention (I’m fussy, very fussy).

    I would love to be able to browse books in bookshops, etc, but I can’t anymore so I have to make do with the cyber-alternatives. I do sometimes overspend, but it’s rarely on things like Christmas or holiday seasons when I usually give away some of the books and other things I’ve purchased, read, enjoyed and then want to pass on to someone else. (That’s one of the ways I, personally, recycle).

    As for people spending money online while at work… I think that the majority of people do their internetty-stuff from work and waste their company’s money and time. Are they actually doing any work, that’s what I wonder.

    1. Hi Val,
      I’m sorry your mobility is compromised and glad that online shopping is available for people who can’t shop in person. I am extremely cautious when shopping online. Like you I also have a person who is close to me who had an encounter with an identity thief. I also pass books, jigsaw puzzles and other things I have enjoyed along to others too.

      As far as shopping during working time goes there is a productivity loss that businesses measure. What’s changed is that the losses due to malware attacks, viruses, etc. are huge and growing larger every day.

      Have a wonderful holiday season. :)

  3. What does this have to do with wordpress blogging? I thought this blog was supposed to be about tips on blogs?

    1. @Bob
      I know which topics are of interest to my readers and which are not. This topic spans all niches and what I choose to publish is my concern – not yours.

      There are over 500 posts in this blog. My About page clearly states: “This blog was founded on January 16, 2008 but also includes posts written in 2007. Some posts are aimed at users but the majority of post contents are applicable to bloggers working on all blogging platforms.”

      If you wish to locate posts pertaining to blogs click the category link for and locate those 195 posts.

  4. Internet shopping has proved to be both an addiction and affliction for my mother who is an antique dealer. Seriously. She won an auction on Ebay for a faucet and she was ecstatic.

    I wonder what the trading days were like, when people just traded goods instead of exchanging goods for currency…we should tap into that more, as a Nation (USA), in my opinion. Our economy already sucks.

    Oh look, now I’m rambling. Great stuff, Time!

    1. @Ryan
      It’s ironic that economic recovery is based on each of us going deeper into debt for items that are not necessities. I suppose it’s not amazing how reluctant people who are afflicted to internet shopping are to ‘fessing up, and if and when they do, they find how hard it is for them to ‘kick the habit’.

  5. I like Photodiction’s observation and devil’s advocacy. Me, I am self-employed, working largely from home, and feel very blurry way too much of the time! Need to establish those boundaries, even within my own workspace / timespace. As for shopping on line – I dislike it, prefer to see/feel what I buy, but find it a necessary evil on occasion, and always say a little prayer my card details don’t go astray – they did once, so I avoid that website now, and only shop online as an utter last resort, for flights and books, not much else.

    1. @Cynthia,
      I believe my readers of this blog and my personal blog are now clued in to how over committed I allowed myself to become as I have freely shared my struggle. In the last couple of weeks I cut 40 blogs off my reading list so I could free up some time to comment on the blogs of my regular readers. As this is the busy season for our business I won’t actually be able to increase my commenting until January, but I have taken the beginning steps to correct this imbalance in my life.

      I don’t think your preference for shopping in person is unique. I think there are many people who prefer to eyeball what they are buying because the people I have talked to said so.

      Example: Ebooks are convenient but I by far prefer holding a book and reading it so it’s not likely that I will be purchasing a Kindle any time soon if at all.

  6. It actually never occurred to me to shop online at work. Seriously. My computer work cubicle faces outward to the walking aisles. So anyone can see my computer screen. Besides I’m such a waffling shopper..I take ages to shop clothing, etc. by browsing and making up my mind. No point doing this at work — I just couldn’t think properly to make a purchasing decision!

    1. @Jean
      You are making me smile. The more I get to know about you the more we seem to share in common. :)

      I’m also a waffling shopper and I rarely buy new things. I quiz myself a zillion times about whether or not I really need to purchase whatever. If I’m convinced it need “it” then I search second hand, stores, charity shops, thrift stores and consignment shops. If needs be I also check out liquidation centers. In most cases I simply telephone such places and ask what they have in stock. That way I don’t waste any transportation and money by traveling to each place in person. ;)

  7. I had never really thought about companies losing productivity during this time of the year due to employees and the like doing their shopping and similar related activities during work hours, makes sense though (unfortunately for the business).

    But i’d have to say, after the news this morning I’d say shopping online is a good bet. Apparently a man was trampled at the entrance of target (i believe) and herniated his disk..saw the video footage of it and did not look like a very pleasant experience.

    1. @Eric
      Shopping on the Job May Costs Companies US/CAD $1,000 or More per Employee — 2010 ISACA Shopping on the Job Results Canada

      Due to lost productivity, 64% of IT professionals estimate that their organizations will lose $1,000 or more per employee who shops online at work. Nearly 30% estimate the loss at US/CAD $15,000 or more.

      — Black Friday sales in the U.S. rose just 0.3% over last year, according to research firm ShopperTrak. While malls saw a 2% rise in the level of consumers out shopping, actual sales were not robust, remaining at the 2009 level of US$10.7-billion.

      — PayPal said on Saturday that the total volume of Black Friday online payments rose 27% compared with 2009, and mobile shopping was up 310%. Meanwhile, an Ipsos Reid survey for Visa Canada found that close to 30% of Canadian online shoppers said they would probably shop at U.S. online retailers on Black Friday, a rise of 5% from last year.

      — PayPal said on Saturday that the total volume of Black Friday online payments rose 27% compared with 2009, and mobile shopping was up 310%. Read more:

  8. I need to come back and comment some more. One thing that I wonder about is the balance in our lives. A part of this post discusses how personal activity like online shopping interferes with productivity in the work place. The flip side of the coin is that with company issued Smart phones, and internet at home, many people take their work home with them and are “on the clock” even while at home when they are supposed to be at leisure, being with family, doing their shopping :) etc.
    I’m not justifying shopping during ‘company time’. I’m just wondering if there are some concepts that are getting blurred… ending in stresses that result in personal judgement being blurred.

    Devil’s advocate statement: “If I am expected to be connected to work while at home, shouldn’t I expect to be connected to home while at work?”

    1. @photodiction
      It’s my opinion that the lines between work and home are blurry if and only if one buys into the notion of being available to everyone at all points in time and uses an electronic device to remain connected. If they do agree to that then they will become addicted to the use of cell phones, blackberries, etc. Research reveals they will work longer hours, and sacrifice relationship time previously spent with family and close friends in order to be available for work related contact. It likewise reveals they will be exposed to more stress, and will be more inclined to become depressed, and will be more inclined to be taking both over the counter drugs and “mood elevating” pharmaceutical anti-depressants.

      I believe we are reaching a time when humans are willingly volunteering to give up personal autonomy, privacy, physical, emotional and psychological health, sustaining personal relationships and choose to become enslaved to technology, under the banner of making more money. I also believe that school programs are creating a generation of “always switched on kids, who are being habituated to think that being in constant contact via technology is “normal” human behavior. It’s crazy but true – legions of parents are purchasing cell phones for preschoolers.

      As a person who has twice been at death’s door I know who and what are truly important. What profit is there in holding a fist full of dollars when you have surrendered your autonomy and privacy, mucked up your physical, emotional and mental health, and distanced yourself from relationships with family and friends?

  9. I actually do not shop for any physical items at all online. The temptation isn’t there for various reasons…one of them being the fact that I do like to physically know the item that I am buying at hand. I also don’t want to pay custom brokerage fees for international vendors. Since I’m petite, it’s hard for me to find clothing that fits which means usually altering them.

    And right now, my sewing machine is 1,500 kms. in another home. So no major clothes shopping for me unless I delay wearing new clothing purchases until I go back to do some sewing.

    This oath of non-virtual shopping does help me budget because one resists temptation. After being unemployed for awhile, believe me, this was very important. Now budgeting closely continues to be important. I don’t even have a debit card and don’t want one.

    Don’t quite understand the lemmings behaviour to shop cross-border on 1 specific day, Black Friday. Sounds like asking for headaches of…more crowds and waiting. I do shop in the U.S when I visit the U.S. once or twice annually during non-peak holiday times….some outdoor/cycling clothing is not at all available in Canada anywhere. Usually that type of shopping is combined with a cycling trip…so I therefore can’t buy too much. Otherwise it’s too much weight to haul around. :D

    1. @Jean
      Thanks for being patient while waiting for me to reply to you. We had visitors last week and it was hard to juggle work, visiting and blogging as well.

      As you know from being a reader of my personal blog my husband and I left the consumer driven rat race in the urban jungles over 30 years ago and opted to live in the bush. We lead an extremely simple lifestyle. It’s so simple that most urbanites would be astonished to find how little shopping we do at all either off-line or online to maintain that lifestyle.

      We prefer to be debt free, rarely watch TV, and do not choose to be available 24 hours a day to anyone other than close family members and friends. We not enslaved to cell phone use or texting because we refuse to nuy electronic devices that we will become addicted to and allow them to control our lives.

      We pay zero attention to any advertising anywhere other than to scoff at it, while wishing it would disappear forevermore. No freebies, coupons, contests, draws, discount deals or any other enticements to purchase trigger us into going into debt. Our debt-free lifestyle and attitudes are not typical of most North Americans and you sound like you are a member of the same unofficial “drop-out of debt club” . :D [HUG]

      Reference links for the curious:

  10. Hi timethief,
    Very timely piece – and scary! No, I won’t be shopping when I’m being paid to work. I suspect that those who shop during work hours are most likely not limiting this activity to holiday time as that’s a pretty clear indicator of low employee engagement.

    1. @Susan
      Hello there. Thanks for waiting so long for me to reply. I appreciate your ongoing interest in my blog posts and contributions to discussions as well very much.

      I find this information to be mind-boggling:

      Nearly one-third of U.S. workers holiday shop online at work: Survey
      One-half of employers monitor employees’ Internet and email use. But employers are cracking down on personal Internet and email use in the office, found the survey.

  11. I have never thought of Google Checkout, Amazon Checkout, and eBay’s PayPal as digital wallets – at least from the point of view of being frugal.

    However, it is very interesting to read article about the safety aspects in the article you have linked to.

    I started online buying a while ago – and with some trepidation.

    Now I find it very easy to buy on impulse, precisely because the credit card authentication has already been done.

    I am cautious about big items, but a couple of times in the past few weeks I have bought a book from Amazon that I wanted to read but which, had it been in a bookstore, I would have thought twice about.

    I have pondered this, wondering why I buy on line more easily than in a store.

    I find buying a book in a bookstore is a pleasurable experience – so why do I hesitate more in a ‘real’ store than on line?

    1. Hi David,
      Thanks do much for your patience. I appreciate the fact you are a regular reader and I’m sorry I was unable to answer your comment immediately and made you wait. As well as working, we had company last week so making time for blogging was very difficult.

      I actually LOL :D when I think that such “virtual wallets” accounts in terms of being frugal. When will we stop BS’ing each other? Most of what we purchase is not a necessity for life. This was an interesting number in that security article I linked to: “In just a decade, virtual wallets have gone mainstream; PayPal alone claims 78 million registered accounts.”
      The article does have some very pertinent security information for those who do shop online that some may not be aware of and that’s why I linked to it.

      I find picking up a book acquired via interlibrary loan, or discovering and buying one in a second hand bookstore to be exciting. :) Purchasing one online is … MEH so I don’t. If I can’t find what I want in second hand bookstores then I complete an interlibrary loan form or I borrow from friends. :)

      The reality of the actual cost and interest, etc. seems to slip away from our attention when we purchase online. I think the answer to your question may be that we get a false sense of increased personal power via immediate gratification by purchasing online.

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