If, like many Americans, you are planning on doing some holiday shopping on the day after Thanksgiving – aka “Black Friday” – you now have one less store to visit. Yesterday, outdoor gear retailer Recreational Equipment, Inc. – more commonly known as REI – announced that all 143 of its stores will be closed that day, effectively bypassing one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Furthermore, REI management is encouraging its employees to use this extra day off as a chance to get outside and enjoy their favorite activities. The company has even created the hashtag #OptOutside to encourage others to do the same.
REI’s announcement has been met with widespread approval amongst consumers, who have seen Black Friday creep into Thursday evening in recent years as big box retail stores battle it out for our holiday dollars. But this year, if you want to buy outdoor gear for your friends and family, you’ll either have to shop elsewhere, or wait for REI to reopen on Saturday, November 28 instead.
In the announcement of the closure, REI CEO Jerry Stritzke said “For 76 years, our co-op has been dedicated to one thing and one thing only: a life outdoors. We believe that being outside makes our lives better. And Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of this essential truth.”
Black Friday has traditionally been one of the top ten sales day of the year for REI, helping to account for the $2.2 billion in revenue the company accumulated in 2014. But this year, not only will the vast majority of the 12,000 REI employees have November 27 off, the company won’t even process online sales that day either. In fact, there won’t be any Black Friday promotions or sales of any kind, although you can bet that there will be holiday sales at some point during the busy shopping season ahead.
In a time when it seems that most retail outlets are attempting to get the upper hand on one another in a race to see who can open their doors first, or offer the best Black Friday deals, it is refreshing to see a major chain of stores take a different approach. While it is true that because REI is a specialty store, it will likely make up the sales in the days that follow, it is still nice to see a company that isn’t just chasing the almighty dollar, but has the best interest of their employees and customers in mind too.