Planning on camping out in front of REI this Black Friday? If so, you’d better find a different campsite.
REI took a drastic and rather badass stance yesterday, announcing that it will not only not have specific “Black Friday” sales but it will close its stores – all 143 physical stores, its headquarters, and 2 distribution centers.
Rather than hustling Black Friday while combating a Thanksgiving food hangover, REI’s 12,000 employees will receive a full day’s pay and a day outside the confines of their 4 walls, out into the great, wide open. REI is encouraging all employees and customers to enjoy the day outside – in nature – with friends and family as part of their online #OptOutside crusade. I love this.
The decision to close shop was an easy one. According to REI Chief Executive Officer, Jerry Stritzke, “Black Friday has gotten out of hand,” and REI wants to encourage and “help people get back outside with their loved ones.”
Cynics may scoff and say it’s just a PR stunt hacked up to garner more buzz and favor from the public, but I disagree. Each year, reports show the eventual conquest of Thanksgiving Day, as Black Friday sales inch closer and closer to Thursday. Some go so far to say that Black Friday deals are actually ruining Thanksgiving traditions.
As someone who is not a huge fan of Black Friday and definitely do not agree with Black Thursday (only 12% of the population actually “likes” Black Thursday), this got me thinking. Are there other companies that boycott Black Friday or at least the Black Thursday “creep” like REI? The answer is yes, quite a few actually. Here is the list of boycotting companies from last year:
1. Barnes & Noble – “We will be closed Thanksgiving Day, November 27 so that our booksellers can be with their family and friends,” the bookstore chain said on its website.
2. T.J. Maxx – Its employees will be home celebrating the holiday. “We are pleased to give our Associates the time to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends,” said TJX Companies spokeswoman Colleen Beauregard in an email to HuffPost.
3. Home Depot – Home Depot stays closed Thanksgiving Day.
4. DSW – DSW issued a statement explaining their belief that family comes first. They are closed for Thanksgiving, and not opening until 7 a.m. on Friday.
5. Marshalls – According to Colleen Beauregard, a TJX Companies spokeswoman, they are closed because, “We consider ourselves an associate-friendly company.” But on Black Friday some stores will be open bright and early at 5 a.m. Most will open at 7 a.m.
6. Costco – “Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families. Nothing more complicated than that,” Costco spokeswoman Bev Akada said in a statement to HuffPo. The chain will be open at 9 a.m. on Black Friday.
7. Apple – Apple stays closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
8. Burlington Coat Factory – Although Black Friday hours vary by store, one thing is for sure–the chain will be closed on Thanksgiving. A Burlington spokesperson told ThinkProgress, “All Burlington locations will remain closed on Thanksgiving so that our associates and customers can spend the special holiday with their loved ones.”
9. Nordstrom – No Christmas shopping at Nordstrom until the day after Thanksgiving. A Nordstrom spokesperson told Mental Floss: “We just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time.” Black Friday store hours vary by location.
10. Dillard’s – Fully closed on Thanksgiving, Dillard’s will reopen on Black Friday. Julie Johnson Bull, Director of Investor Relations at Dillard’s, emailed HuffPost and said, “We choose to remain closed on Thanksgiving in longstanding tradition of honoring our customers’ and associates’ time with family.”
11. REI – Not open on Thanksgiving nor Black Friday. Awesome!
12. American Girl – Susan Jevens, American Girl spokeswoman, told HuffPost: “Our stores have never been open on Thanksgiving, so this is not a new decision for us.”
13. Patagonia – The reason the outdoor clothing company will close is simple. A Patagonia spokesperson told ThinkProgress: “It’s a holiday – we’re closed!” Hours will vary by location on Black Friday.
14. Sam’s Club – Closed on Thanksgiving, but will reopen on Black Friday. According to Tara Raddohl, a Sam’s Club spokeswoman, “Based on member feedback, we have elected to close our clubs Thanksgiving Day.”
This list is a good start, but nowhere near where it should be. Companies that open at 5 pm or worse – stay open all day on Thanksgiving – are doing a major disservice to their employees, their brand, and really, society as a whole. ThinkProgress states it best:
Retail employees may not have a lot of choice about whether they come to work that day. Although many stores say shifts have been filled by volunteers, they may be volunteering because their unstable schedules don’t normally give them enough hours to live on. And many likely aren’t guaranteed any holiday time off, as the United States is the only developed country without a national requirement, leaving nearly a quarter of private sector workers and 45 percent of service workers without the benefit. Last year a few workers reported that their requests to take the day off were denied.
If your emotional heartstrings aren’t tugged at the thought of employees hugging their families “bye” to go and sell more unnecessary crap, perhaps your logical side will understand this one – as a consumer, Black Thursday is not even that good of a deal.
Fighting the War on Thanksgiving, Robert Frank of the New York Times addressed the one thing larger corporations truly care about: money. Black Thursday is not only dreadful for families, it’s simply not worth it from a consumer’s perspective. Frank argues, “the costs might be worth bearing if they led to even larger gains, but when all outlets open earlier, no one benefits.” Plus, very few people want to leave the cozy comfort of their homes to stand outside in the cold for the chance to buy some gadget that’s only a slightly cheaper. When there’s pumpkin pie to be eaten and wine to be drunk and better sales that started weeks before and continue well after Thanksgiving, what’s the point? I can’t really think of any.
So, brands, if you’re faced with the decision of whether to open on Thanksgiving or let your employees enjoy their time with loved ones, take a cue from REI and please #OptOutside.
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