Black Friday is officially here, and at this point in the morning, many deal-hungry shoppers have already finished their chores for the day. In today’s overly-promotional world, “Black Friday” is now a four-day shopping holiday—starting on Thanksgiving itself—which means plenty of people have already done their shopping.
Of course, shopping malls and retail stores will be busy throughout the whole weekend, and then our shopping attention will shift to online marketplaces during Cyber Monday. For better or worse, this stretch of aggressive shopping is now engrained in our culture and truly marks the beginning of the holiday season’s busiest stretch (also read: A Guide to 2017's Black Friday and Holiday Shopping Trends).
The Thanksgiving weekend shopping bonanza has quickly grown to represent the height of American consumerism. For many, holiday shopping is mandatory, and the deals during days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are too good to resist. Others are drawn to the activity for a moment of excitement during an otherwise in-home holiday.
But some shoppers have pushed back against our new holiday shopping traditions recently. When the trend of stores opening early on Thanksgiving picked up a few years ago, protest campaigns were launched, and employees and shoppers alike argued that the new practice misrepresented what the holiday season is all about.
Critics have also spoken out against the mob mentality and violence that is associated with camping out in line for Black Friday doorbusters. And although we assume that the day brings a much-needed windfall for stores, we have even seen a major retail company decide to stay closed on Black Friday in protest of this behavior.
Indeed, for the third year in a row, outdoor retailer REI is staying closed today—and giving its employees a paid day off. “You don't win in the long-term by pushing ... what I call rampant consumerism,” CEO Jerry Stritzke told Business Insider.
Instead, REI uses Black Friday to push its “Opt Outside” campaign, which encourages shoppers and employees to spend the day outdoors. REI will not even process online sales today.
For REI’s competitors—like Dick’s Sporting Goods DKS, Bass Pro Shops, and Cabela’s—shutting down on Black Friday could be a devastating blow to holiday sales.
But REI’s unique business model, which sees the company market $20 lifetime memberships to customers, allows management to forget about the shopping holiday. In 2015, the first year that REI closed on Black Friday, the company recorded its largest-ever membership growth.
More than 700 organizations have joined REI’s “Opt Outside” campaign, including the National Parks Service. This year, REI is launching an “experiential search engine” that will allow people to share photos with the tag #OptOutside.
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