REI Will Close Stores on Black Friday


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Here’s an idea. Close up your store on Black Friday. Seriously, close up.

Close Black Friday? The biggest shopping day of the year? No really. Just close. That’s what REI, the outdoor gear and sporting goods retailer, is doing this year – canceling Black Friday. Not open. Shut up. Gone fishing!

Actually, that last one is pretty much what REI is doing. They’re forgoing the craziness of the day and trying to start a new shopping tradition. No door-buster sales or Black Friday promotions. No huddling for warmth in line in the parking lot. Nope, REI is closing all of its’ 143 stores the day after Thanksgiving to encourage people to spend some time not shopping in the great outdoors but enjoying the great outdoors. To help, REI built a dedicated #OptOutside website with resources on local hiking trails.

For a while now Black Friday – which pretty much starts with Grey Thursday and runs through Cyber Monday – has become an increasingly competitive game of can-you-top-this? Earlier store openings, crowded parking lots, door-buster specials and sales galore. But with all that, the number of shoppers shopping and the amounts of money spent have been declining each year.

Now while you might think that a store that sells outdoor gear and mostly-outdoor sporting goods suggesting consumers not shop but play is self-serving, you wouldn’t be too far from right. Sure, it’s certainly differentiating to take an anti-consumerism brand position (well, one day a year), but maybe it’s also just being expedient.

Our Brand Keys 2015 Holiday Shopping Survey, interviewing 15,750 consumer from all over the U.S.A. including the great outdoors, discovered that when it cam to starting to shop for the holidays, 84% indicated that they intended to shop before Black Friday.

  • Before September: 11%
  • September: 10%
  • October: 22%
  • November (Before Black Friday): 41%
  • December: 16%

The trend for holiday shopping starting earlier and earlier was something we commented upon in 2010, and is conclusively proving itself out. Part of the trend is rational; consumers have realized that low-lower-lowest prices are always to be found. Oh, and you can sit at home and order online if the mood strikes you, although REI won’t process any orders till Saturday. Even hot-wired-to-their-mobile-device consumers can wait one more day! Other parts of the trend are driven by emotional values: gratification in finding the perfect gift, no matter what time of year it is, and a reduction in the stress of having to deal with all other elements of the year-end holidays. Ahhh, not dealing with crowds.

Only 16% of consumers – 9% fewer than 2014, and 19% fewer than 2013 – indicated they were going to wait until Black Friday to start holiday shopping, although some consumers (4%) did indicate that they would make an effort to support local businesses on Small Business Saturday.

For those of you who feel that Black Friday is an absolute mandate, we have two words: Cyber Monday!

Robert Passikoff
Robert Passikoff, Founder and President of Brand Keys, Inc., pioneered research in loyalty and engagement, creating the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index® ,the Sports Fan Loyalty Index® , and the Women's Wear Daily Fashion Brand Engagement Index® . His first best-selling book, Predicting Market Success provides marketers a 21st century perspective on predictive loyalty metrics. His newest book is The Certainty Principle: How to Guarantee Brand Profits in the Consumer Engagement Marketplace.


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