Should Retailers Follow REI's Black Friday Lead and #OptOutside Instead?

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Should Retailers Follow REI's Black Friday Lead and #OptOutside Instead?

By Jamie Grill-Goodman - 10/30/2015
Outdoor retailer REI wants shoppers to take stock of life, outside, rather than have its employees take stock of inventory this Black Friday. The nation’s largest consumer co-op made a bold move announcing plans to close its doors on Black Friday and pay its 12,000 employees to go outside. REI invited others to join in by choosing to #OptOutside to reconnect with family and friends this Thanksgiving holiday.

“Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the essential truth that life is richer, more connected and complete when you choose to spend it outside," commented Jerry Stritzke, president and CEO of REI. "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.”

The company will close all 143 of its retail locations, headquarters and two distribution centers. Co-op employees and members will be sharing outdoor experiences throughout the holiday season and on Black Friday REI.com will feature a black takeover screen that encourages customers to #OptOutside.
 
Stritzke continued, “As a member-owned co-op, our definition of success goes beyond money. We believe that a life lived outdoors is a life well lived and we aspire to be stewards of our great outdoors. We think that Black Friday has gotten out of hand and so we are choosing to invest in helping people get outside with loved ones this holiday season, over spending it in the aisles. Please join us and inspire us with your experiences. We hope to engage millions of Americans and galvanize the outdoor community to get outside.”
 
A recent shopper study from RichRelevance found Americans are also very opinionated about stores opening on Thanksgiving Day. Over a third (38%) state they hate the practice and another 27% dislike it. A mere 13% like or love the relatively new practice. Furthermore, six of 10 people (61%) said they will not shop on Black Friday if they shopped in the store on Thanksgiving Day.
 
GameStop, a multichannel video game, consumer electronics and wireless services retailer, once again will close its U.S. stores for the Thanksgiving holiday.
 
“We believe strongly that our customers and associates should have the opportunity to spend the Thanksgiving holiday relaxing with family and friends, and not worrying with the stress of where to find the best shopping deals. We know this is in stark contrast to what many other retailers are doing, but we are taking a stance to protect family time during this important holiday,” said Mike Buskey, executive vice president and president of U.S. Stores.
 
However, GameStop will open at 5 a.m. local time on Black Friday. Big box retailer Costco will be closed on Thanksgiving and won't open until 9:00 AM Black Friday.
 
Macy’s on the other hand announced stores are opening at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving again this year, marking the third year Macy’s has opened on the holiday.

Walmart announced on November 1st it will kick off eight weeks of deep savings and holiday "retailtainment."  The company expects "more than 210 million visits to its app in November and December – up from 18 million in 2013." The retailer also said 75% of traffic to Walmart.com is expected to come from a mobile device this holiday season.
 
Perhaps in a move to reduce holiday lines for one of the biggest Thanksgiving players out there, the company is rolling out Mobile Check In. Customers can check in using their phone when they arrive to pick up their online order, all for free. New Pickup branding in stores has been implemented to help guide customers more quickly to the Pickup service area.