by Bryce Covert
October 28, 2015
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With strong consumer and legislative backlash against the idea of stores opening on Thanksgiving, REI announced that not only will the retailer be closed on Thanksgiving day, it will also remain closed during Black Friday. Will more retailers follow in line?
Outdoor goods retailer REI announced that on top of being closed on Thanksgiving Day it will also keep its doors closed on Black Friday this year.
On Tuesday, the company announced that its 12,000 employees will get a paid day off on November 27 in an effort to get more people to go outdoors, and its website will feature a black screen.
“We’re closing our doors, paying our employees to get out there, and inviting America to OptOutside with us because we love great gear, but we are even more passionate about the experiences it unlocks,” CEO Jerry Stritzke said in a statement.
REI isn’t the first to come up with the idea of discouraging people from shopping on Black Friday, a day when most stores feature special sales and promotions to get people in the door. For the past two years, REI competitor Patagonia has urged customers to swap items and re-wear old ones rather than buy new gear.
Many stores have gone in the opposite direction and extended Black Friday into Thanksgiving, forcing employees to come to work on the national holiday. REI was among the 18 that allowed all employees to stay home on Thanksgiving and confirmed to ThinkProgress it will do the same this year.
It’s not alone in the decision to close on Thanksgiving this year. So far, Staples, GameStop, and Mattress Firm have all said they won’t open so as to let employees celebrate with family and friends. Last year Staples had been counted among the 12 brands with shopping hours on Thanksgiving, collectively requiring thousands of workers to come in. While many claimed those workers volunteered, employees at Kmart and Target said they had no say over whether they were scheduled then and risked getting fired if they refused.
The tide may be turning against the early hours. Sales numbers from last year showed that while people shopped on Thanksgiving, they didn’t increase overall holiday purchases, simply shifting what they would have spent on Black Friday to the holiday itself. There was also a strong consumer and legislative backlash against the idea of stores opening on Thanksgiving.