REI Opts Out of Black Friday | CEO Jerry Stritzke Explains
You heard it right. REI, the outdoor-sports big-box has declared all 143 store-fronts will be closed on, historically, the biggest shopping day of the year. The privately-held company has one simple message: ‘Opt Out,’ and get outside.
REI’s 12,000 full and part-time workers will get a paid, two-day holiday on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
“We think that Black Friday has gotten out of hand,” said Jerry Stritzke, CEO of REI in an interview with CNN Money. Admittedly, Stritzke recognized the dip out of the shopping holiday may put a dent in revenue. Last year, the four-day long Black Friday weekend garnered over $50.9 billion in U.S. sales. Regardless, the CEO isn’t wavering beyond the company’s ethos to get outside.
Instead, the company has started a social media campaign asking its customers to join them on Black Friday and get outside. So far, over 431,000 social fans have joined the hashtag, #OptOutside.
REI holds the title as the nation’s largest “consumer co-op” at 5.5 million members, and is growing its membership base at a quick rate. Customer co-op members make up about 90% of the total sales. Customers pay a one-time membership fee to be a part of the REI family, so we can only assume the company has a responsibility to maintain a loyalty to their shoppers. Stritzke recognized Black Friday as one of the company’s top 10 sales days in past years, “When you close…on one of the busiest days of the year, it’s going to cost you money,” he said.
“There is a lot of disruptive forces in retail. I think, doing retail today requires that you have a very crisp view of why your members or customers should come to you,” Stritzke voices.
The company will also respect their vow online. While about 20% of total sales are done online, the website on Black Friday will attempt to divert potential buyers with a message to get outside. Online sales can still be made.
REI sent this email to their customers yesterday:
“This Black Friday the co-op is doing something different. We're closing all 143 of our stores. Instead of reporting to work, we're paying our employees to do what we love most—be outside. We want you to be the first to hear—not just what we're doing, but why. 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. And don't worry, you'll still enjoy great deals on great gear all holiday season long. But on this one day, we're going to #OptOutside and we want you to join us. While the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we hope to see you in the great outdoors. Visit optoutside.rei.com and you'll discover great ways to #OptOutside from coast to coast. Let's get out there, REI."
“Perhaps John Muir said it best back in 1901,” REI said in their customer email. "…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.”