black friday 2015

REI Black Friday: Outdoor Gear Store Closed On The Biggest Shopping Day Of The Year

REI is closing on Black Friday. The popular outdoor gear store has taken a step which has shocked other retailers. Being closed on Black Friday 2015, the date which is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year, is a bold step which comes with a special request from the owners.

REI is urging Americans not to go shopping on Black Friday 2015, but to spend time outdoors instead. All 143 stores in the chain will remain closed the day after Thanksgiving this year. The co-op business created the #OptOutside hashtag to share its closing on Black Friday news and to offer Christmas shopping alternate activities to do instead.

In an effort to redirect the consumerism and frenzied shopping in search of steep discounts on Black Friday, REI (Recreational Equipment Incorporated) is asking its social media followers to use the #OptOutside hashtag and to share what non-shopping activity they are doing that day after Thanksgiving, MSN reports.

“Any retailer that hears this will be startled by the idea,” REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke said. The company leader admitted he was apprehensive about the Black Friday closing, at first. “As a co-op… we define success a little differently. It’s much broader than just money. How effectively do we get people outside? The thing that is powerful to me is this clearly is not a financially self-serving act. It’s an act where we’re really making a very clear statement about a set of values.”

Recreational Equipment Inc. will also once again be closed on Thanksgiving day. Black Friday has faced stiff competition to maintain its “biggest shopping day of the year” title for the past several years. Thanksgiving night sales at mega retailers like Walmart have stolen some of the excitement and sales long associated with the early morning doorbuster deals offer the following day.

Due to backlash, some retailers will not be opening on Thanksgiving this year. Costco and Nordstrom have recently announced that they will wait until Black Friday 2015 to start their Christmas shopping kickoff sales.

“Black Friday historically is the most important retail day of the year,” Ron Friedman, head of the retail and consumer products group at consulting firm Marcum LLP, said when noting surprise at the REI closing Black Friday decision. “It’s like a national holiday.”

REI is so committed to remaining closed on Black Friday that the company created a #OptOutside website, dedicated to guiding customers to local hiking trails and other outdoor opportunities. The campaign was reportedly built with both its customers and staffers in mind. The co-op business has approximately 5.5 million members. The members pay a one-time fee for a share of the business, with members contributing to roughly 80 percent of annual sales.

During Black Friday last year, approximately 86.9 million people went shopping, the National Retail Federation reports. The entire post-Thanksgiving weekend has become a sales extravaganza in recent years, nixing the one-day only deals that traditional promotions offered, USA Today notes.

“It makes it a lot easier for them to do this than it would for a publicly traded company,” Retail Metrics President Ken Perkins, said. “REI has also never been a huge discounter anyway, he says, and doesn’t necessarily compete with major retailers such as Target and Macy’s.”

REI store manager Brian Harrower, from Bloomington, Minnesota, said this is the first time in his 25 years spent working in retail that he has had Black Friday off. Harrower is planning to organize an ice hockey tournament and go no where near a shopping mall.

“Somebody has to be the one to kind of put their flag in the sand and say enough is enough,” Harrower said. “That’s what #OptOutside is for us, is saying we’re going to be the first, we think this doesn’t make sense anymore, it’s not healthy. And an outdoor life is a healthy life.”

Are you planning on going shopping on Black Friday 2015? What do you think about REI closing Black Friday?

[Image via Shutterstock.com]

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