Black Friday: a frenzied, helter-skelter day where stores open early, line-ups are long, and both customers and retail workers alike feel excruciatingly overwhelmed. It’s the busiest shopping day of the year, yet some retailers are making the bold decision to stay closed on Black Friday.
On Monday, the popular outdoors apparel retailer, REI, announced that all of their locations will be closed on Black Friday, and that their employees will receive a paid day off in turn.
REI sent the following message to their members proceeding the announcement:
“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.”
While many other major retail companies would blanch at the idea of losing the huge profits garnered by Black Friday, it should come as no surprise that a retailer such as REI, which encourages physical activity and a love of the great outdoors, would choose to snub the whole thing altogether in favor of remaining authentic to their brand.
As a means of spreading their message, REI has also created the website optoutside.com and generated the requiste hashtag #optoutside.
While many are praising REI’s decision to opt out of Black Friday, others have chosen to remain cynical by pointing out the convenience of a retailer, that bases its business on getting people to enjoy the outdoors, taking an anti-consumerist stance by suggesting that people actually spend the day outdoors instead of clamoring about in a busy mall.
Though the stance is unpopular, other retailers, such as GameStop and Staples, have chosen to follow a similar path by remaining closed on Thanksgiving. Again, this decision has been met with skepticism as the holiday is typically slow on sales, for obvious reasons.
As someone who has worked retail on-again-off-again for close to ten years now, I can’t help but feel optimistic in regards to REI’s decision. Good for them for choosing to remain true to their ideals while treating their employees to a paid holiday in return, as many other employers would use the free day as an opportunity to skimp their employees on pay. I just hope that other companies will eventually choose to follow suit.