Taking time off work to chase Black Friday deals – is it a thing?

Viesturs Abelis 8.12.2021
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Spoiler alert: yes, it is.

Our latest study shows 1.07% of US employees take a day off on Black Friday.

It’s no secret that Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping events of the year. What started as a campaign to get the post-Thanksgiving crowds into shops has now become a global phenomenon, with retailers all over the world offering sizable discounts and consumers rushing to snatch them up. 

2021 saw $8.9 billion in online sales, which was a just smidgen short of 2020’s $9 billion. One reason for the shortcoming is that people were happy to go to stores in-person – in-store shopping is rebounding, seeing a 48% gain over 2020.

But, where do people find the time to spend so much money during a workday? Well, some do so during work. It’s a question we already asked back in 2018 about that year’s record-breaking Cyber Monday. 

We discovered that employees spend 2.3x more time ”workshopping” on Cyber Monday than on regular workdays. Doing a bit of online shopping during work can certainly serve as a nice break from your daily tasks, but if you spend too much time chasing deals, it will impact your productivity. 

So we started wondering. 

Is anyone taking off Black Friday to make sure they can properly focus on… shopping? 

Chasing deals on Black Friday 

The answer is, well, yes – US employees are 2.6x as likely to take time off on Black Friday, than on any other average day in November

For this study, we took a look at just over 100 US-based companies that use DeskTime and searched for trends in employee absences. We looked at vacation days, paid leave, and unpaid leave, and ignored such things as sick days, parental leave, and emergency leave. 

Sure enough, there’s a notable spike in absences on Black Friday. 

On any given average November workday, only 0.4% of employees were absent. On Black Friday, however, the number was 2.6 times higher, reaching 1.07%. November’s averages were also brought up by Veteran’s day and All Saint’s day, both of which saw increased absences. 

By Cyber Monday, however, everyone was back to work, seeing record-low numbers for November absences at just 0.2% – twice fewer than average. Why skip work when all the tech deals can be found online? 

A changing dynamic

When it comes to Black Friday, the one-day bonanza is slowly but surely turning into a month-long shopping festival. Great deals are made widely available to shoppers long before the day of Black Friday and people increasingly choose to distribute their shopping over the month, rather than try to do it all in one day. 

This is one of the reasons why Black Friday spending statistics have declined in their YoY growth – it’s no longer about the one day. 

Still, if you’re a manager and an employee asks for a day off on Black Friday, be understanding. People experience greater stress during the holiday season. Between lack of time, financial pressures, and planning family gatherings in times of Covid, this time period can be emotionally taxing and there’s less mental bandwidth left to focus on work. 

We could all benefit from a day off to get our holiday shopping done. It could help our emotional wellbeing, reduce time spent workshopping, and improve our productivity. So, why not? 

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