REI will keep its stores closed on the day after Thanksgiving for the second straight year, even though it's one of the busiest shopping days of the year. It will also again pay employees for the day off in a campaign that encourages people to spend time outdoors. Online shoppers can put items in their cart, though no orders will be processed on Black Friday. CEO Jerry Stritzke told The Associated Press that the company's move last year, which it dubbed #OptOutside, gained momentum on social media from various outdoor groups. He said he saw more than 20,000 social media posts from REI's 12,000 employees. Many had their first Black Friday off in more than 20 years, he said.
Total Retail's Take: Good for REI. Amidst all the debate about whether stores should be open on Thanksgiving Day, REI is once again taking the extra step and closing its stores on Black Friday as well. And the company's nice gesture for its employees is paying off for the brand. Not only did last year's decision to close its stores on Black Friday generate a ton of positive press for REI, but it also ended up driving a significant increase in traffic to its website. A win-win for REI, which makes this year's decision to once again close its stores on Black Friday a no-brainer.