When Cyber Monday became “a thing” nearly two decades ago, the concept of remote and hybrid working was the dream of many workers who commuted to the office five days a week.
Now, emerging weekly trends around when people work in the office and at home could be a boost for retailers eyeing Cyber Monday profits.
That’s because the middle of the week has become the time when more white-collar workers come to the office. Meanwhile, office traffic on Fridays and Mondays tends to be softer, which could allow people to browse Cyber Monday deals in lulls between calls, assignments, or when they’re doing otherwise the shuttle.
“For some consumers, Monday may be the first opportunity to pay attention to deals,” said Katherine Cullen, senior director of industry and consumer insights at the National Retail Federation, who was also working from home on Monday.
After a busy Thanksgiving weekend and with her kids now back in school, “today was the first day I could pay attention to sales” for her own gift lists, Cullen noted.
As of Monday, consumers were expected to spend between $11.2 billion and $11.6 billion, according to Adobe Analytics. That would surpass the $10.7 billion spent last year on Cyber Monday, Adobe said. A few days earlier, there was a record $9.12 billion in online sales during Black Friday, Adobe ADBE,
The National Retail Federation predicts total sales for the holiday season this year between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion.
Big spending is despite four decades of high inflation pinching wallets. Or maybe a lot of people are spending now because the high cost of living makes gift deals even more attractive.
It’s hard to estimate how much Cyber Monday shopping is powered by people working from home, Cullen and others say — but it’s a factor for the day.
It’s also difficult to compare work-from-home dynamics from last year to today, Cullen added. The Omicron variant was starting to emerge and in-person work policies were also likely different in 2021, she noted. Yet, Cullen added, “it’s part of the larger story of what’s happening with consumers and how consumers’ lives have changed.”
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“Not being tied down to a desk and/or a supervisor gives you a bit more options to spend a bit more time,” said Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at The NPD Group, a company market studies.
Like Cullen, Cohen said it’s unclear how much the work-from-home trend will play into Monday’s sales, but he’s willing to say it will add something. “If we weren’t working from home and Monday wasn’t a big work-from-home day, would sales be less? Probably yes.”
Shoppers are more focused on budgets and spending discipline this year, so they can spend less, said Rachel Dalton, head of retail insights at Kantar. But they might be more focused on Cyber Monday deals if they haven’t jumped on promotions already. “It is unclear whether working from home on Cyber Monday will directly affect Cyber Monday sales. But I would say it can only help,” Dalton said.
Work from home and large-scale hybrid work started as a pandemic contingency plan and grew into a feature of the white-collar work landscape.
(Even if it’s uneven: Just ask anyone working at Twitter who should now be physically at work after Elon Musk bought the social media company.)
Now the question is whether a hybrid mix is the new standard in the future.
In the three weeks leading up to Thanksgiving week, office occupancy rates peaked on Wednesdays or nearly peaked, according to Kastle Systems. During this period, average occupancy was still around the 55% point, while hovering in the low 40% range on Monday, the data showed.
Security tech provider uses key cards, fobs and app usage in 2,600 buildings with 41,000 businesses to assess office occupancy as the back-to-office debate continues takes place.
In another index of worker movements, the same pattern is seen on ridership along metro NYC subways and train lines from suburbs of Long Island, Westchester County and Connecticut. . Ridership peaks between Tuesday and Thursday and hits a lull on Mondays and Fridays, according to data from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
In the first three weeks of November, data from Inrix, the vehicle traffic data analytics firm, shows that Mondays account for 15% of weekly journeys in the country. Tuesdays account for 16% of weekly trips and the rest of the work week, Wednesday through Friday, accounts for 15% each day.
When companies offer flexible hours, many workers now tend to come in the middle of the week, said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based outplacement company.
“When you’re in the office, you try to make the most of your time,” he said, but when you’re working from home, the line between professional and personal tasks can blur. This is how Cyber Monday shopping could seep into the working day, he said.
Of course, even if more people are using their work-from-home arrangement on Mondays to land vacation deals, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re less productive at their jobs. But it may depend on who you ask.
Whether remote work undermines productivity can be a sensitive topic that staff and management disagree on.
Many workers feel like they’re working harder than ever when working from home, but many bosses are skeptical. In a survey conducted earlier this year, 87% of workers said they were just as productive working from home, while only 12% of managers were fully confident in the productivity of their staff when working from home. hybrid.
This fuels “productivity paranoia” on both sides, Microsoft MSFT researchers say.
“It’s clearly still a divide between employers and employees,” Challenger said.