REI to Permanently Opt Out of Black Friday

by Emily Morgan
Photo by: Smith Collection/Gado / Contributor

REI announced this week that it’s adding on a permanent holiday for all of its employees: Black Friday. The popular outdoor retailer recently announced it will remain closed for this year’s Black Friday. In addition, it will stay closed every Black Friday. The policy has been in place since 2015. 

The popular outdoor retailer will forgo any and all profits from shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday has long been considered one of the busiest shopping days of the year. For many, it marks the start to the holiday season.

According to a press release from the company, REI will keep its headquarters and all stores, distribution facilities, activity centers, and call centers closed each Black Friday from this year onwards. 

The company said that the decision marks the REI’s annual “Opt Outside” tradition of paying its employees to spend the day enjoying the outdoors an “ongoing, permanent” benefit for its workers. The company currently employs over 16,000 people.

“Opt Outside has always been about prioritizing the experience of our employees – choosing the benefits of time outside over a day of consumption and sales,” REI President and CEO Eric Artz said in an official statement.

“Making Opt Outside an annual observance will serve as a yearly reminder of this commitment to doing the right thing for the co-op community.”

With its now permanent Black Friday approach, REI shoppers will still be able to do online shopping with the outdoor retailer on Black Friday. However, order processing and fulfillment for online orders will start the next day, according to the company in the release. 

REI bows out of Black Friday madness, encourages folks to get outside instead

Each year since 2015, the outdoor recreation company has chosen to close its doors on Black Friday. According to Artz in a statement, REI “felt it was the right thing to do for our members and employees.”

The company is also owned by customers who buy lifetime memberships. The chain operates 178 locations in 42 states and the District of Columbia. Similar to its competitor, Patagonia, it markets itself as a progressive brand. 

Similarly, Patagonia has also chosen to stop participating in any Black Friday shopping madness, choosing to bow out completely. Like REI, the company also encourages people to spend the long weekend outside instead of battling the malls’ crowds to get a deal. 

“In the years since Opt Outside was first introduced, the co-op has grown to 16,000 employees and 21.5 million members,” said Artz. “We’re a diverse and vibrant community that’s united by a shared love for time outside. That’s always going to be a constant for us—no matter the challenges we face. Opt Outside is an embodiment of our values.”