Battling against the unrelenting onslaught of holiday sales and promotions, recreation gear and sporting goods company REI announced plans to shut down all stores on one of the most popular shopping days of the year, Black Friday. REI’s 143 brick & mortar stores will close on Thanksgiving and eventually reopen on the Saturday after Black Friday. In addition, employees of REI will be paid while enjoying the day off.
On top of that, REI will shun online deals and doorbusters on Black Friday. Instead, online shoppers will be greeted with a splash screen that encourages them to get away from their computers and mobile devices in order to go outside. Of course, REI customers can still place orders, but those orders won’t be processed until the company resumes operations on Saturday. REI is using the hashtag #OptOutside to spread awareness of the campaign on social networks.
Speaking about the move, REI CEO Jerry Stritzke said “We think that Black Friday has gotten out of hand…Any retailer that hears this will be startled by the idea. As a co-op … we define success a little differently. It’s much broader than just money. How effectively do we get people outside?” As a co-op with 5.5 million members, REI member customers account for roughly 90 percent of sales during the year. REI’s strategy is to recruit more of those dedicated members rather than appeal to customers simply seeking Black Friday bargains.
That being said, REI will lose money on Black Friday. The busy shopping day is on the list of the top 10 revenue generating days for the company. Of course, other sporting goods companies are already taking the opposite approach. Sports Authority announced a free shipping promotion this week, offering up free shipping on most online orders from now until January 2, 2016. This followed the announcements from both Best Buy and Target detailing free shipping offers for online customers throughout the holiday season.