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Today, REI's CEO Jerry Stritzke told The Associated Press that the outdoor gear retailer would remain closed the day after Thanksgiving again this year.
The store is thus giving its 12,000 employees a paid day off and encouraging them and potential shoppers to do something active outside on Black Friday instead of shopping. And while customers can place orders online on the company's website, they will not be processed until operations resume.
"We recognized the opportunity we had as a co-op to lead with our values, and do the right thing for our 12,000 employees," Stritzke stated in an email. "We got to send an important message that we'd rather invite people to go outside with us rather than be fighting it out in the aisles."
REI's Black Friday Closing Is Favorably Received by Shoppers
REI, which was ranked #26 in Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For list, also gives its employees two "Yay Days" off per year on which they are paid to go outside and use the stuff the company sells.
The company garnered a lot of publicity last year when they closed for Black Friday amidst a backlash against the growing trend of retailers opening on Thanksgiving and forcing its employees to work instead of spending the holiday with their families. REI's #OptOutside hashtag generated 1.2 billion social impressions.
More Stores Are Changing Their Hours This Year
Last year, Office Depot and hhgregg were both open on Thanksgiving, but this year they will close for the holiday — though they both will open their doors bright and early the next day. And Mall of America, the nation's largest shopping mall, will be closed on Thanksgiving for the first time since 2012.
But REI, which has 149 locations, is one of the only stores to forego Black Friday, traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year. Meanwhile, others, like struggling department store chain Macy's, will open even earlier this year on Thanksgiving.
REI has disclosed that in years when it was open for Black Friday, the day was one of its five busiest of the year. However, experts don't foresee skipping Black Friday as a strategy that will knock the retailer off its course of approximately a 7% increase in sales this year. Stritzke told Fortune that he hopes to make being closed on Black Friday a tradition, and while his competitors are busy at work, plans to spend the day off with his grandson.
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