The day after REI announced that it will close its doors on Black Friday this year, CEO Jerry Stritzke went on “CBS This Morning” to discuss the firm’s unique decision to abstain from business during one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
REI is paying its employees for the day and encouraging them — and the retailer’s shoppers — to take part in an outdoor activity through the hashtag #optoutisde.
The decision created a stir on Twitter — and was overwhelmingly well-received. In the past few years, many retailers have extended Black Friday hours, and some have even stayed open on Thanksgiving, a controversial move that has attracted criticism.
REI first got the idea to step away from commerce and into the outdoors on Black Friday about nine months ago, after Stritzke asked his team to come up with something authentic that would convey the retailer’s mission.
“It was nine months ago. We gave the team the challenge: ‘How do we do something authentic?'” the executive said on the show this morning. “They came back with this, and I have to admit, the idea was a bit shocking. But the more we thought about it, the more excited we got. It was an idea that [we knew] our associates would love. As a co-op, we have 5 million members who love the outdoors, and we thought they would get into it as well.”
Stritzke said on “CBS This Morning” that the idea “was enthusiastically embraced.” What does he say to skeptics? “I don’t expect to see a lot of retailers closing on Black Friday. The attention creates the platform to talk about the power of getting outside.”
The move comes at a time when REI is posting strong sales. “We are having a good year. It’s our second year of double-digit growth,” Stritzke noted.
And it seems as though the chief executive is taking the company’s message to heart. “My three-year-old grandson is coming out [to Washington] for Thanksgiving, so we’re going to go out on the mountain and see if we can find a little bit of snow.”
Following REI’s big news, other retailers, including DSW, were eager to get in on the conversation. The shoe discounter issued this statement on Tuesday afternoon:
“While many retail stores will be open for business on Thanksgiving Day, this year we continue the DSW tradition of keeping ours closed. Family time is extremely important to us, and we want our associates to enjoy the holiday with their loved ones. Our stores will remain closed until 7 a.m. on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving,” the company said.