Those shoppers who bravely rise the morning after Thanksgiving to strike out into the madness of Black Friday have one less store to rush into.
Outdoor goods chain REI has not participated in the traditional start of the holiday shopping season for the past few years, instead encouraging its employees and patrons to skip the mall and head for the hills via their #optOutside campaign. In 2016, the retailer announced it's approach to the day after Thanksgiving was a huge success that resulted in more than 1 million memberships.
“Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the essential truth that life is richer, more connected and complete when you choose to spend it outside,” Jerry Stritzke, the chief executive of REI, said.
The Black Friday shuttering comes in addition to the Thanksgiving holiday that REI also provides employees at its 151 national stores. And yes, both days off will include full pay for its 12,000 employees.
"While the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we hope to see you in the great outdoors," Stritzke told employees in an email.
As Forbes reports: "To build upon the momentum the ‘no Black Friday strategy’ has created in the last two holiday seasons, along with the #OptOutside hashtag it has engendered, REI has created a search engine that draws on photos people have submitted and provides suggestions and information on cool outdoor destinations, such as a trail’s difficulty or location."
As you might expect, this refreshing shift towards Black Friday was warmly greeted on social media.
Props to @REI for paying their employees to take Black Friday off this year! Stay true to your mission of helping people get outdoors :)— Joyce Park (@troutgirl) October 27, 2015
While REI's Black Friday decision has few precedents, the move to at least rein in some of the shopping frenzy that has consumed the Thanksgiving holiday in recent years is starting to take hold. This year, major retailers such as Costco, TJ Maxx, Lowe's, Pier 1, Petsmart, H&M, Ikea, Marshalls, Office Depot and Office Max have all decided to remain closed on Thursday, Nov. 23.
Watch REI's Jerry Stritzke discuss his company's decision to "remain authentic as an outdoor company" on Thanksgiving and beyond in an interview below.
Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was originally published in October 2015.