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Amazon Prime Day: Billions in lost productivity

  • CNBC's rough estimates suggest the U.S. could lose $10 billion in productivity.
  • Three-quarters of Prime members said they might shop from work.

While you're looking for a good deal on Amazon Prime Day, your company and the country are likely being dealt an economic blow. Consider how much productivity employers are losing from their workers staring at Amazon.com today rather than doing their work.

We tried to estimate the value of all that lost work and came up with a rough number around $10 billion.

Think of it this way: The full Prime Day lasts 30 hours, but people are only in the office for about a third of that time. Consider the estimated 85 million people on Amazon Prime already, and assume they each spend about one minute for each of the five minutes that new deals roll out, or 12 new ones an hour, to see if the deals are right for them.

A whopping 78 percent of members said they'd consider deals on Prime Day while at work, according to data from Fluent, a marketing company. Only 22 percent said they wouldn't shop while on the job.

Then consider U.S. gross domestic product and productivity data: 2016 GDP is estimated at $18.5 trillion, which is about $0.92 a minute for each worker. Put it all together, and you're looking at an estimated $10 billion in lost worker time, thanks to Amazon Prime Day.

Obviously, that's an estimate. We know a lot of new people will sign up for Prime membership just to get the deals today, which could send this number higher. We also don't really know how much time they'll spend on deals: It could be less if consumers aren't impressed with the offerings, or it could be more if they are.

"The reality is everyone is shopping on Amazon at work, at home, on the train, everywhere," said Joe McCann, CEO of NodeSource, an enterprise software firm. "Are people going to be even more distracted at work? Absolutely. Just as much as they would be during Cyber Monday or even Black Friday."

That $10 billion might not be taken away from their jobs, though. It could just be part of the daily bleed from other time-wasting activities such as Facebook, Twitter and this week's Wimbledon tournament.