REI, the Seattle-based outdoor recreation and sporting goods retailer, generated some buzz by announcing that it will be closed on Black Friday. While the company portrayed its decision in an altruistic light, it also underscores the fact that the day after Thanksgiving isn't as critical for driving sales as it used to be.Instead of ringing up merchandise on November 27, REI employees will receive a paid day off. The company is also launching a campaign encouraging shoppers to spend the day after Thanksgiving outdoors. The company's decision not to participate in the frenzy of Black Friday is a reminder that "life is richer, more connected and complete when you choose to spend it outside," said REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke in a statement.
"We think that Black Friday has gotten out of hand," Stritzke continued. "And so we are choosing to invest in helping people get outside with loved ones this holiday season, over spending it in the aisles.
While it's nice of REI to help people go outside, the truth is consumers still have plenty of other days to shop. In fact, consumers are increasingly starting their holiday shopping as early as September.
Coupon provider RetailMeNot surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. residents and found that only 10 percent of respondents believe that Black Friday savings are worth the wait. Approximately 85 percent expect retailer holiday promotions to begin prior to Black Friday, with more than half (54 percent) saying they expect to see these offers in the marketplace prior to October.
And even though the media loves to report on the long lines and fights that break out during Black Friday, this kind of shopping isn't sustainable or good for a store's reputation in the long run.
Thankfully, the stampedes, frantic customers, and harried employees are becoming a thing of the past, thanks to staggered sales and ecommerce. Customer engagement is still important, though, and Mila D'Antonio lays out five ways to engage consumers during the holidays.
So, kudos to REI for a savvy marketing campaign, but let's not forget that the shopping season is just getting started.