To celebrate Thanksgiving this year, outdoor gear and apparel retailer REI is taking a bold stand against the chaotic caricature of capitalism that is Black Friday by closing its doors and paying its employees to live the company ethos — by spending the day enjoying the great outdoors with their loved ones.
In an email sent to customers on Monday, the co-op announced that it’s closing all 143 of its stores on Black Friday.
“Instead of reporting to work, we’re paying our employees to do what we love most — be outside. … We’re passionate about bringing you great gear, but we’re even more passionate about the experiences it unlocks for all of us. Perhaps John Muir said it best back in 1901: ‘Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home.’ We think Black Friday is the perfect day to remind people of this essential truth.”
Stores will remain closed on Thanksgiving too, though REI ensured customers that they will still have access to holiday deals during the holiday season.
Long the busiest and most lucrative day of the year in the retail sector, Black Friday has grown and merged into the Thanksgiving holiday itself. In recent years Black Friday has started to swallow Thanksgiving, with 1:00 or 2:00 am early Friday openings creeping into even earlier openings designed to entice consumers out on Thursday evening.
But if sales figures from last Black Friday-Thanksgiving weekend are any indication, forcing employees to work those days may soon not be worth it: According to the National Retail Federation, last year retail sales fell 11% over the weekend in 2014, in part because stores had offered deals even earlier in November. But it could also signal a shift in consumer preferences: In 2012 Nordstrom racked up over 26,000 “likes” on its Facebook page for a post explaining its stance on staying closed on Thanksgiving.