REI kicks off Black Friday forever



New York
CNN Company

REI has left Black Friday, forever.

For the past seven years, the retailer has closed its doors the day after Thanksgiving to give its employees the day off. The Seattle-based outdoor clothing and gear retailer said Tuesday that starting this year, all parts of its business — all 178 stores — its distribution. locations, call centers and headquarters – will be closed every year on Black Friday.

The company said it would pay its 16,000 employees to spend time outside in addition to shopping that day. While shoppers can order on the company’s website on Black Friday, processing and shipping orders won’t begin until the following day.

REI first announced in 2015 that it would buck Black Friday madness and keep stores closed on one of the retail industry’s busiest shopping days, but until now it was a year-by-year decision rather than a permanent policy.

At the time, however, it was an unprecedented move. Historically, Black Friday has kicked off the annual gift-buying marathon. It’s a day when retailers have fought for shopper traffic, offering consumers the biggest and best “door-to-door” deals..

But in recent years, the tide has turned against Black Friday and it’s waning importance, especially among younger Millennial and Generation Z consumers who may not feel compelled to wake up at the crack of dawn in hopes of being out of the store the day after Thanksgiving. Pick up a blender or flat screen TV for 60% off.

In addition, retailers don’t necessarily save the best holiday deals for one day, but instead offer them earlier. Walmart ( WMT ) , for example, is running during the year-end holiday shopping season even before Halloween.

However, REI’s move to ditch Black Friday for good as part of the “Opt Outside” movement to celebrate the day is noteworthy as most retailers continue to keep their stores open.

“Opt Outside has always been about prioritizing our employee experience, choosing the benefits of time outside over a day of consumption and sales,” REI CEO Eric Artz said in a statement. “When we first introduced this move, it was considered revolutionary for a retail brand, but we felt it was the right thing to do for our members and employees.”