Maybe Kraft Heinz Co. is on to something.
The maker of Velveeta cheese and Oscar Mayer hot dogs decided to give all of its salaried U.S. employees the day off after Super Bowl Sunday. It's hoping the move will generate more publicity than a pricey TV ad during the big game, but the company did take the additional step of starting a petition to make Congress declare that Monday a national holiday, so we're going with it. The company is calling it "Smunday"… erm, we'll work on the name.
Kraft Heinz won't specify the cost of adding this new holiday to the calendar. But in theory at least, planned absenteeism can be less disruptive than unexpected lateness or distraction. The data crunchers at Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. estimated that employers waste $290 million in wages for every 10 minutes their workers spend discussing the game, watching highlights or settling up their Super Bowl pools. If all of the nation's estimated 67 million employed people who will watch the Super Bowl nurse their hangovers by showing up an hour late or standing around chatting, that works out to a whopping $1.7 billion in lost productivity.
You can see the parallels with Black Friday, another day renowned for distracted workers who would much rather be elsewhere. An increasing percentage of employers have elected to make Thanksgiving a two-day holiday, according to a survey of human resources representatives from 450 employers across a wide range of industries by Bloomberg BNA. About 80 percent of those queried last year planned on giving their employees both Thanksgiving and Black Friday off, the highest percentage in at least 30 years. About 70 percent of employers observed Black Friday as a holiday in 2015.
So why not make Super Bowl Monday the new Black Friday?
Sure, there are more Americans that celebrate Thanksgiving than watch the Super Bowl, but there's an economic opportunity here. As my colleague Shelly Banjo has noted, retailers should follow in Amazon.com Inc.'s footsteps in taking advantage of made-up commercial holidays to generate growth. The e-commerce giant rakes in huge gains in Prime customers from its "Prime Day," while Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has seen a significant sales boom from its Singles' Day promotion.
Honestly, employees are probably spending a significant portion of the Monday after the Super Bowl surfing the web, anyway, and those on the winning side might be more liberal with their wallets. Imagine what an army of bleary-eyed shoppers could do if they had the day off -- they're right where retailers want them.
Kraft Heinz needs about 45,000 more signatures on its petition to reach the 100,000 threshold to send it to Congress. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., J.C. Penney Co., Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. -- are you with them?
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.
Really Kraft Heinz? You dodged a bullet by not being associated with the naming of Mondelez International Inc., let's not backtrack.
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