No Really. Take a hike.
Outdoor and fitness retailer REI announced for the second year in a row that all REI stores nationwide will be closed on Black Friday. REI encouraged customers and employees to spend the day outdoors rather than partaking in the traditional Black Friday activities of racing down store aisles grabbing up anything with a discounted price tag.
Not only will all brick and mortar stores be closed on the day after Thanksgiving, but the company’s website won’t process online orders either. To top that off, every one of REI’s 12,287 employees will be given paid time off. This is a complete company shut-down for one whole day.
This comes in vast opposition to many retailers who open their doors at midnight on Thanksgiving (and some who are actually open on Thanksgiving Day).
Due to the high volume of customers during peak Black Friday hours, it often becomes and all-hands-on-deck situation where some employees no longer have the option of taking Thanksgiving off.
Jerry Stritzke, REI’s chief executive, told The Huffington Post on Monday. “Consumerism has had a push for a long period of time. The response we saw last year to our announcement is really a backlash to the consumerism invading our key holidays.”
In addition to closing stores and online business on Black Friday REI is launching an #OptOutside campaign, in which they teamed up with 275 organizations such as the National Park Service, and other nonprofits to take kids from poor, inner-city neighborhoods out into nature.
This decision has done more than boost company culture and prospective employees (Last year, REI saw a 100 percent increase in job applications in the 30 days after stores closed on Black Friday), it also reflects the slowly changing perspectives that consumers have of large corporations. Many consumers find it refreshing that corporations such as REI, are beginning to advocate for things like spending quality time with family and enjoying outdoor activities during the holidays (which is what the Holidays are really meant for) rather than working or shopping.
And REI plans to take on a larger social responsibility by becoming more politically active and making environmental advocacy a larger part of its mission. Stritzke also said that beyond climate change, he’d like to see more discussion around the value of exposing children to the outdoors and “the power of nature to heal.”
Changes like this made by REI, and other companies, show that the company is concerned with the human side of things and not just profit margins. It also lends an element of transparency that many consumers are demanding from corporations and reflects the current school of thought that corporations have a larger social responsibility to uphold.