American retailers have been opening earlier and earlier for Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year. At first, some stores opened at the crack of dawn, then it crept up to midnight, and finally stores started opening on Thanksgiving evening to lure diehard deal hunters after dinner. Some of the more aggressive stores keep marathon store hours, operating continuously from Thursday evening till Friday night.
But then came the backlash: A group of retail chains, including Nordstorm and Costco, announced they wouldn’t open on Thanksgiving day. Some framed it as giving their employees a break before the holiday season, and others hoped to elicit the goodwill of their customers.
Now one company is taking this ethos even further: The outdoor-equipment retailer REI announced on Monday that it plans to close its distribution centers, all 143 of its stores, its headquarters, and even its website on Black Friday this year. There will be no special promotions that day, either.
For the company’s 12,000 employees, Black Friday will be a paid holiday. It’s up to them to decide how to spend their time, but the company is hoping that they will follow a simple mandate: Go outside and do something.