Do You Shop At Work?

Surveys! Is there nothing they can’t measure? Apparently yes: the number of Americans who shop online while they’re at work. According to Spherion, 30% of workers use their computers at work to shop online during the holidays. Accountemps says the number is 21%, the Memphis Business Journal says 38%, and says it’s 54.5%.

We wonder if the discrepancies have anything to do with the nature of the organizations—Accountemps is a temporary accounting staffing firm, and is an “association for retailers online.” The Memphis Business Journal’s poll was online and, we’re guessing, not very scientific. Spherion is also a staffing company, but their study was performed by Harris Interactive and seems to at least have some methodology behind it, so we’ll choose to believe it’s 30%. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about statistics, it’s “you must choose to believe.”

Here are some more factoids from the Spherion survey:

  • Workers aged 25 to 29 are more likely than other age groups to use their computer at work to shop for or buy gifts online during the holidays.
  • Females are more likely than men to spend 30 minutes or more on each online shopping occasion.
  • Workers earning $25,000 to $34,900 are more likely than other income groups to spend 30 minutes or more on each online shopping occasion.
  • Nearly half of workers disagree with the statement: “I feel it is acceptable to use my computer at work to shop for or buy holiday gifts.”
          — 46 % of workers disagree with the statement.
          — 32% agree with that statement.
          — 22% neither agree nor disagree.

“Spherion Survey Finds Online Holiday Shopping at Work Increasingly Prevalent Among Workers” []
“Surveys mixed about online shopping at work” [Memphis Business Journal]
“Business Pulse Results: Most do little online shopping from work” [Memphis Business Journal]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. LadyNo says:

    I have Christmas presents on the brain lately, so I haven’t been shopping online nonstop at work. I will probably end up getting fired for it and not be able to afford buying gifts anyway, so it’s a lose-lose situation.

  2. LadyNo says:

    I mean I HAVE been shopping online!

  3. UpsetPanda says:

    My job is one that has various amounts of down time…any given day, I could spend an hour or two sitting and doing nothing, because I’m depending on other people to get their stuff done so I can get my stuff done. In that case, I don’t think it’s a wrong thing…we all browse the internet, why is shopping different? As long as it doesn’t get in the way of work and as long as you’re not doing it and avoiding work, I consider it just like any other kind of (work safe) browsing.

  4. dirtymoney says:

    When there is no actual work to do…. then yes I do.

  5. Geekybiker says:

    Like anything else on the net- As long as you’re getting your work done, who cares?

  6. smitty1123 says:

    That age and payrate looks very “entry level”/administrative to me, so it’s hardly surprising that there is more shopping/internet shenanagins going on.

  7. Zgeg says:

    Wooted this morning, and found a movie from Amazon this afternoon.. All this while completing two projects and finishing up the specs for a new one for the new year..

  8. JeffM says:

    I do, but funny thing is I end up working at home a lot too… for exempt employees what is the difference? As others have said: as long as the work gets done.

  9. mexifelio says:

    The demographic of Workers aged 25 to 29 and earning $25,000 to $34,900 are probably the only people who cared/bothered to even take the survey.
    It’s just like asking five 12 year olds if they like ponies and then saying “most 12 year olds like ponies!”

  10. Rando says:

    *System admins that know how/if/when they are being monitored do it 90% of the time!

  11. Chase says:

    Even if I were given the opportunity to shop at work (I teach, so those websites are blocked; that, and I actually don’t have much free time) I wouldn’t as I think it’s unacceptable behavior in the work environment. Work time is work time, not leisure/do-what-ever-the-hell-you-want time. Find something else conducive to your company, you slackers.

  12. Neurotic1 says:

    I often sell things on Craigslist and I can definintely see a difference in the number of responses depending on the day of the week. The vast majority of people respond to my ads during the work-week during traditional working hours. Not exactly scientific data, but compelling enough to convince me that the best time to post new ads is late on Sundays for those returning to work on Monday morning.

  13. Dead Wrestlers Society says:

    As someone who used to work for a consumer research company, a lot depends on sample size, incidence rate (who qualifies to take the survey) and probably just how shopping online was defined ( yes/no, or was there some baseline that had to be reached before someone was considered an online shopper). Maybe the surveys asked if they shopped at least 30min a month, and if not, they fell into the didn’t shop group. There are a million ways to conduct a survey.

    I would definitely go with the Harris Interactive over an online poll.

  14. UESC says:

    I bought a tv on monday during work!

  15. loudguitars says:

    I shop online during the week because my workdays last anywhere from 10-16 hours. It takes me about two minutes to order something I need off of Amazon from start to finish. Going to a store, if I can even find one open when I get out of work, is a minimum half-hour procedure, and I prefer to use that extra 28 minutes to sleep.

    If I have downtime I might browse gifts for others, but damn near anything I actually need I can have bought in less time than it takes my boss to go out and smoke a cigarette.

  16. Starfury says:

    I shop at work, eBay, Craigslist, and other websites. I’m currently picking out my Xmas presents so I can e-mail my list.

  17. UESC says:

    I also like pony’s, so you could say that most 12 year olds and all 29 year olds surveyed like pony’s.

  18. I have to do ALL of my internet doings at work since I don’t have an internet connection at home. Check that… I have a 56K dial-up connection at home, which is as bad as and sometimes worse than no connection at all. This is unusually strange given the fact that I am a web designer by day. Of course, this is also the tax for living at home with your dad. …I’m a winner!

  19. B says:

    I’m too busy updating my fantasy football team and posting on blogs to have time to shop at work.

  20. lostalaska says:

    I’ve shopped online at work before, but it was during my lunch break and from our online code of conduct it appeared to be totally okay during a break to use the internet for personal reasons so long as it didn’t create any kind of conflict with my work.

    My workplace has a system set up to monitor internet usage and automatically blocks (bandwidth conservation) high bandwidth sites like youtube and myspace. While you could probably get away with screwing around on the internet while at work I don’t imagine you could get away with it for long before someone would take notice.

  21. jamesdenver says:


    Chase you’re wrong. Work hours are longer now. Projects blend into home life. For someone that works 10 hours a day it should be expected that a small and modest amountain of personal business – phone calls, making appointments, a bit of shopping can be done between work.

    My supervisor has no problem with it – and as others have stated my work is done.

  22. HooFoot says:

    “Workers earning $25,000 to $34,900 are more likely than other income groups to spend 30 minutes or more on each online shopping occasion.”

    I’m in that income bracket and this describes my shopping habits perfectly.

    I do a lot of shopping online simply because I don’t own a car. Big shopping trips to the local strip mall are a huge pain the ass because 1) they’re not pedestrian friendly and 2) even using public transportation, I have to limit what I buy to what I can carry for an extended period of time. Even if I owned a car, I doubt I’d have the extra cash to spend on gas driving from store to store in search of gifts.

    So online shopping it is. I usually find betetr deals on the internet than most big box stores anyways.

  23. Jigen says:

    I’ve never actually tried to shop online at work, granted I’ve only been there a couple months. The company is so tight on internet security that most of the internet is blocked. If there is anything remotely resembling anything that wouldn’t be company related (shopping, email, etc.) in the sites meta-tags the site gets blocked. Also, according to the warning screen that is displayed instead, the access attempt is logged and submitted to the appropriate parties in the company. I’ve hit the page a number of times myself though and never heard anything, so who knows.

  24. nardo218 says:

    It’s just kinda dumb, I think. I don’t trust my work to keep the coffee pot filled, I really don’t think they’re capable of reliable internet security.

  25. rg says:

    When the company has no qualms about me working on my time, why should I have a problem shopping on their time? It’s a relationship, it requires give and take.