For the third year in a row, REI CEO Jerry Stritzke made the executive decision to close all 151 of his stores nationwide during the annual event of Black Friday. He encouraged his customers to go outside and make memories with their loved ones instead.
“I like the idea that there is a conversation about being open on Thanksgiving,” Stritzke said. “A part of me is hoping that the vast majority of retailers pull back from invading the holiday.”
Since 2015, the Anti-Black Friday movement has grown. The day after Thanksgiving was originally one of the biggest days for any retailer, but now, due to REI’s positive publicity over the past three years, some retailers see the movement as a way to promote their company’s values.
“When you look at retail today, this playbook of promotions and consumerism, it’s not working,” Stritzke said. “It feels like it’s lost momentum since our movement.”
Although he has been accused of wrong intentions, Stritzke disregards the idea that REI’s Black Friday approach is only for positive publicity.
“You don’t promote your way to love,” Stritzke said. “It’s about being a different kind of company.”
Before the movement, retailers were able to attract shoppers with deals only, but the public now looks at the bigger picture.
“Opening on Thanksgiving can hurt brands at a time when they need to build genuine connections and engagement with customers more than ever before,” Stritzke said. “You don’t win in the long-term by pushing rampant consumerism.”
The movement has inspired several shoppers to not go Black Friday shopping, but instead, go outside.
“It’s really more than selling stuff,” Stritzke said. “It’s not just retail. It’s experiences.”