You Won't Find Black Friday Sales at REI This Year or Ever
REI will continue to abstain from participating in Black Friday.
REI claims it is quitting Black Friday the way millennials quit JNCO jeans in the 90s. Permanently. Probably.
REI has kept out of the Black Friday frenzy for the last seven years, opting to give employees the day after Thanksgiving off. It has now announced that it will annually close all of its business, including 178 stores, distribution locations, headquarters, and call centers. It will "instead pay its more than 16,000 employees to enjoy time outside," it said in an announcement. The day off will becoming an "ongoing, permanent, employee benefit."
Though REI’s online store will still be active on Black Friday, it will not start packaging sold items until the day after the shopping holiday. It also offers sales at other points throughout the year.
REI first shed Black Friday in 2015 and has made the announcements on an annual basis. The difference this year is it is skipping the annual announcement to instead announce the "permanent" end to Black Friday at its stores.
When REI first bucked the Black Friday trend, it was a big announcement. The vast majority of retailers have long offered significant sales and sometimes even extended hours for the shopping holiday, pulling employees into stores extra early the day after Thanksgiving.
"Opt Outside has always been about prioritizing the experience of our employees, choosing the benefits of time outside over a day of consumption and sales," REI CEO Eric Artz said. "When we first introduced this movement, it was considered revolutionary for a retail brand, but we felt it was the right thing to do for our members and employees."
At this point, Black Friday may have decreased in significance. Instead of saving the best deals of the year for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many stores are offering big sales even earlier in the year in events like Walmart’s year-end holiday event or Amazon’s Early Access Sale. Nonetheless, REI won’t be bucking their habit of recent years to join in the Black Friday chaos anytime soon. Though, any "forever" announcement from a corporation should always be taken with a grain of salt. "Forever" is a long time and the world changes fast.