Is REI's #OptOutside Black Friday Closure Sparking a New Trend?

November 11, 2015 Sean Couch

REI, the Seattle-based outdoor recreation and sporting goods giant, is closing all of their 143 stores and will not process online orders on the busiest retail day of the year. The brand is persuading not only all of their 12,000 employees but also customers to #OptOutside and not "fight it out in the aisles." As one of the most powerful brands in the outdoor retail industry, the company says this move aligns with their mission that "being outside makes lives better."

Since the #OptOutside announcement we've been monitoring the press coverage to gauge how well received this wildly counterintuitive and controversial move has been.

Retailers Are Following REI's Lead

Other retailers have decided to change their approach when it comes to the holiday shopping season and shedding light on similar best practices. In fact, you can clearly see how REI's announcement has begun to create a tidal wave of news from other retailers in the chart above.

Nordstrom has always let their employees enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday and given them the opportunity to participate in early Black Friday shopping. This year the retail giant announced that they will also not be decorating or sharing any holiday-themed promotions until Friday.  Their reasoning is now hanging on posters at stores across the country: “Well, we just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time.”

ASDA, the British founded, and now Walmart-owned supermarket has witnessed too many long, violent lines and chaos because of customers fighting over Black Friday deals. The supermarket is calling it quits after introducing the shopping event in the U.K only two years ago. ASDA announced that they will not be participating in the event, but have rather opted to share nearly 26 million pounds of saving opportunities across the entire holiday season.

Other brands such as H&M have decided to close all of their U.S. stores so employees can spend time with their family during the holiday.

Shifting Focus and Creating a New Trend

REI's announcement has helped shift the focus from Black Friday deals to the importance of family and the immaterial. Retailers have been stealing the spotlight away from the Thanksgiving holiday for years now and prepping customers to think more about gift purchases. 

Our key messaging report shares insight into how REI has helped the media focus more on the importance of Thanksgiving and family before they worry about the onslaught of holiday spending, large crowds and gift wrapping.

Others commend REI for a truly masterful marketing ploy that will help them generate greater sales during the holiday season. Regardless, the response from the general public and media has been overwhelmingly positive. Over 850,000 people are committing to #OptOutside on Black Friday, and you can search for each of them by their social media username on the REI website

Do you think this is the beginning of a new trend? Check out the full PR interactive report here and share your thoughts in the comments below. 


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