Cyber Monday deals were huge, but be careful shopping at work

Cyber Monday 2011 shattered records. It's estimated half of all American adults shopped for bargains online on the Monday after Thanksgiving this year, spending about $1.2 billion.

A new report says online sales rose 33 percent and the average order rose 2.6 percent. Over the past few years, big chains have been offering more and better incentives like hourly deals and free shipping to capitalize on Cyber Monday.

The numbers point to Americans' growing comfort with using their personal computers, tablets and smartphones to shop.

A recent survey showed half of U.S. workers plan to do Christmas shopping this year while at work. That may not be such a good idea, according to one Grand Strand information technology specialist.

Amanda Bittisti of Myrtle Beach is among those who admit to shopping while on the job. "I usually do it late at night if I'm working and it's not busy and there's nothing else left to do."

Sherry Greene of Surfside Beach said she has shopped at work, too, and believes it's OK if it's not done too much. "As long as it's not taking away from your work," she said.

The head of information technology at HTC said more employers today monitor their workers' online habits.

Sid Blackwelder suggests to employers that they have a clear online policy for employees, plus the ability to record where employees are surfing and the software that can block access to sites that aren't business-related.

"You don't have to do a blanket block of everything, you can specifically block it at the employee level," Blackwelder said.

Blackwelder said he's seen statistics that show the average worker spends up to two hours a day at work surfing non-business related sites. "That's a tremendous loss of resources to the organization."

But he said it's getting harder to keep track of workers' online shopping, with wi-fi at some offices that allows employees to bypass the company network.

And then there are smartphones.

"We can't control that," Blackwelder said. "So you have to be aware that there's the opportunity of employees to use their phones to surf the net and do anything on a phone they can do on a PC."

Even those who admit to shopping at work say they'd feel differently about it, if they were boss.

"If I had an employee that was shopping rather than working, it would kind of upset me, probably," said Scott Lee of Carolina Forest.

Blackwelder said there are concerns about shopping at work that go beyond just wasting time. He said an employee could pick up a computer virus from a bad web site and infect the company's whole network.

About 6.6 percent of online shoppers used a mobile device to shop, up from just 2.3 percent last year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.