What’s the story behind an outdoor and apparel company closing on Black Friday?

What’s the story behind an outdoor and apparel company closing on Black Friday?

Retailer encourages employees and customers to enjoy the outdoors instead of shopping.

On Monday, a leading outdoor and apparel retailer announced it would not be open for business on Black Friday this year, and also said they planned to pay their employees for the extra holiday.

In an article in Time.com, REI sent a message to their customers saying, “Instead of reporting to work, we’re paying our employees to do what we love most—be outside.  While the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we hope to see you in the great outdoors.”

The company adds it will not be processing orders on its website on the busiest shopping day of the year either.

Company President and CEO Jerry Stritzke said the action was about being true to the brand.  He adds they are an outdoor company and encouraging people to spend the day outdoors was one of the most “authentic” things they could do.

REI has developed a website, optoutside.rei.com, to promote the notion and is using the hashtag #optoutside as well to garner some publicity about the move.

Of course there are cynics that don’t think the move by the company is entirely for the benefit of its employees and customers.  Some may think the ultimate goal is to get more people going outside in an effort to sell more outdoor apparel and equipment in the long run.

Representatives from the company are traveling the media circuit to promote their decision and certainly hope to get some good publicity out of the program.  But isn’t that good business, after all?  Why wouldn’t a company use what some may perceive as the right thing to do, while doing what is best for the company as well.

In the past few years, there has been a lot of backlash against retailers opening earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, so it may be seen as a good thing for some that a company is taking a stand like this.

The decision to stay open or close on any holiday is usually based on a business strategy, and sometimes that strategy may coincide with the interests of its customer base also.  REI’s decision is sure not going to harm its relationship with existing customers, and may pick up a few new ones along the way.

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