This Friday will be one of the biggest days in the global retail calendar (just behind Alibaba’s Singles’ Day earlier in November). Black Friday sales have begun encroaching on Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., with some stores remaining open on the holiday, and sales beginning even earlier in the week. At the same time, many will still be closed on Thanksgiving Day, and outdoor gear and apparel retailer REI will be closed on Black Friday as well. Patagonia is taking a different approach: Its stores will be open, but it will be donating 100 percent of global Black Friday sales – in-store and online – to grassroots environmental organizations.
Last year, REI closed its 149 stores on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, paid its employees to take the days off, and encouraged its employees and customers to enjoy the great outdoors with their loved ones. REI is running the “Opt Outside” campaign again this year, and it has enjoyed even more traction.
“Just a day away from Black Friday, participation in #OptOutside has more than doubled since last year. That’s mind-blowing given the scale of engagement last year. More than 550 organizations have adopted the movement as their own. We hope the movement spreads beyond the boundaries of the USA because we believe that life just gets better when you spend it outdoors,” Alex Thompson, who oversees Brand Stewardship and Engagement for REI, told Sustainable Brands in an email.
So far, over 3.6 million people have pledged to #OptOutside on Black Friday via social media. The 550 organizations on board including nonprofits, government partners, and companies such as Subaru of America, Google, and Sustainable Brands. Subaru is donating to the ASPCA for every use of both the #OptOutside and #MakeADogsDay hashtags, as further incentive to engage people to bring their dog along on their outdoor adventures. Unilever’s Dirt Is Good initiative has also announced its support, and REI will also be promoting Dirt Is Good’s Free the Kids campaign, which encourages parents to realize the power of outdoor play for their children. What’s more, 22 states will have their parks open for free.
“We were great fans from afar last November when REI announced its #OptOutside initiative — and on Black Friday of all days. The idea is truly purposeful at its heart and demonstrates a brave new way of doing business for others to follow — very much aligned with our ambitions at Unilever,” James Hayhurst, Global Brand Equity Director at Unilever, told Sustainable Brands. “Earlier this year the OMO brand highlighted the lack of time that children globally spend outside each day — less than that of a prisoner — and we're delighted to throw our energies being #OptOutside this November to help more people get outdoors and have real and enjoyable.”
Meanwhile, Patagonia is embracing the holiday spirit by keeping its doors open.
“This year, Patagonia will donate 100 percent of global Black Friday sales in our stores and on our website to grassroots organizations working in local communities to protect our air, water and soil for future generations,” Patagonia CEO Rose Marcarioa explained in a company blog post. “These are small groups, often underfunded and under the radar, who work on the front lines. The support we can give is more important now than ever.”
“We’ll also provide information in our stores and on our website about how to get in touch with these groups and easily be active in your own communities — on Black Friday and every day,” Marcarioa added.
The company has pledged 1 percent of its sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment through the 1% for the Planet initiative since 1985. To date, the amount totals $74 million. The company expects the Black Friday sales to raise an additional $2 million.
“The idea emerged from a brainstorming session as the company considered how to respond to the outcome of the presidential election as a way to keep climate change and issues affecting our air, water and soil top of mind,” Patagonia’s global director for communications and public relations, Corley Kenna, told Fortune. “We felt it was important to go further and connect more of our customers, who love wild places, with those fighting tirelessly to protect them.”