For the third straight year, REI will close its stores on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. The outdoor apparel and gear retailer will also not be processing any online orders on either day (although shoppers will still be able to make purchases from REI's website). REI will pay its 12,000 employees, including hourly workers, for their time and encourage them to spend Black Friday enjoying the outdoors rather than working. The retailer has created a social community around its no Black Friday movement, exemplified by its #OptOutside hashtag and content.
Total Retail's Take: With the positive press it has generated and the enthusiastic response from consumers, at this point REI might as well go ahead and declare that its stores will be closed on Black Friday permanently. I don't think the retailer has any other alternative. And that's a great thing. Retail employees, particularly lower-paid hourly staff in stores and warehouses, work tirelessly during the holiday season, and it's refreshing to see REI recognize their efforts with a paid day off on what's traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year. In addition to benefitting its workers, REI has tapped into a anti-commercialism movement represented by Black Friday. The retailer is sacrificing sales on Black Friday — although it may be winning additional sales in the long term — to promote spending time outdoors, the foundation of its business. Smart business strategy coupled with an employee benefit — a win-win for REI.