This year, it had been announced that REI would be closing its 143 stores and company CEO Jerry Stritzke is urging consumers and its staff (with pay) to enjoy the outdoors on Black Friday. For several years, the day after Thanksgiving or Black Friday (in commercial terms) has been one of the precursors of the frenzied holiday shopping that consumers go through to get hold of incredibly low-priced items that many stores put out to encourage people to come to their stores to buy.
The sporting goods/outdoor wear company will be closing all of its stores in the U.S. for the first time as part of its #optoutside campaign and will pay close to 12,000 employees during their unexpected holiday. A store manager who had been in the company for 13 years said that she and her family would truly enjoy the outdoors, since it is a rare chance to escape the shopping madness that Black Friday brings.
Other store managers of REI also revealed their plans to go outside, such as rock climbing, mountain climbing, mountain biking and running. And it seems like the campaign has spurred an enthusiasm that has spread to the state parks in California.
In Northern California, 49 state parks and the Save the Redwoods League will be offering free admission passes to visitors on Friday. The state has released a report saying that 30 of its state parks have already sold out tickets for Black Friday.
Dana Jones, who is from the Northern Division California State Parks, is delighted with the news. She admitted that it is a great opportunity to join in what she termed as the social media bandwagon, since the public state parks are great places where people could spend their holidays.
Other health and fitness-related companies such as BRG Sports, are also joining the “opt outside” campaign and paying their employees to do so.
REI said that from their website’s Meetup page they have listed 300 outdoor events from volleyball to surfing and they have received one million commitments from their American audience to join their “opt outside” activities this Friday. The American Hiking Society, which is based in Maryland, said that they would be paying all their staff members, seven in all, to go outside and enjoy the great outdoors. Peter Olsen, the vice president of government relations of the society said that they welcome movements such as this that get people to go outdoors and enjoy nature, sunshine and fresh air and out of the malls. He added there are times that people need a push to do something out of rote.
REI did not reveal how much money they would be losing during their Black Friday shutdown, which for many other retailers is a high-revenue day. Although the number of people rushing to stores during the Black Friday sales is still huge, the gap between offline and online shopping numbers is getting smaller. There are many gimmicks that stores resort to so they could entice people to come to their stores instead of shopping online, including earlier opening times for the sale to begin, or making some items only available in the stores instead of online. For REI, their online shopping will also be shut down on Friday.
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