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Retailers Reconsider Black Friday Madness

The end of October usually means retailers are finalizing their circulars to promote Black Friday deals. However, more and more merchants are putting up the anti-Black Friday flag and choosing to forgo sending out ads – or even opening their doors.

REI may have taken the boldest stance against the traditional frenetic holiday shopping spree, as the company announced that it would be closing all of its 143 stores not only on Thanksgiving, but also on Black Friday. Using the phrase “Opt Outside,” REI CEO Jerry Stritzke explained why his company was giving its employees a paid day off instead of opening at midnight after Thanksgiving.

“We’re a different kind of company — and while the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we’ll be spending our day a little differently,” Stritzke said in a statement. “We’re choosing to opt outside, and want you to come with us.”

The Wall Street Journal explained that dozens of other retailers have already called off Thanksgiving Day operations in the face of dwindling in-store traffic and growing eCommerce activity. Mike Edwards, CEO of eBags Inc., told The WSJ that paying his staff to come in and offering revenue-eating discounts while more and more customers stayed home to shop wasn’t a fiscally sound decision anymore.

“It became a nonprofitable decision to stay open on Thanksgiving,” Edwards said.

The decision to close doors on what is usually a massively profitable day for retailers can be easier for some companies, such as REI. Stritzke told The WSJ that their business model isn’t particularly driven by door-buster deals that crowd Black Friday ads; instead, customers are knowledgeable about what they want and willing to pay for quality. More importantly, maybe, Stritzke noted that REI does its best sales when weather improves in the spring, so missing one day in the fall probably won’t hurt the company’s bottom line.

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