Will more retailers follow REI's lead by closing on Black Friday?


It's not unusual for retailers to count down the days until Black Friday, which some consider America's unofficial shopping holiday.

REI started one of those countdowns Tuesday, but with a twist: it's counting the days until its employees get paid for spending a day outside.

The outdoors retailer announced its stores will be closed the day after Thanksgiving and encouraged Americans to spend their time on an outdoor activity instead of shopping that day.

Forbes says REI's bold move shocked the retail world, but the magazine also credited the company's public relations savvy.

Is this the start of a trend? Retail analysts doubt it.

University of Minnesota marketing professor Akshay Rao tells WCCO that with double-digit growth over the last couple of years, REI can afford to take Black Friday off.

But during the peak buying time of the year, most retailers will remain focused on maximizing revenue and profits, Rao says.

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The Associated Press says Black Friday is not as important to REI as it is to retailers that thrive on sales of electronics, clothes or toys.

The San Francisco Chronicle notes things would be different if it were Walmart closing its doors on Black Friday. The newspaper says many retailers follow where Walmart leads – and in recent years that's meant earlier openings on Thanksgiving weekend, not staying closed.

But if REI is nearly alone in its decision, that may work to its advantage.

KARE 11 visited the company's Bloomington store after REI's morning announcement and found some customers who were making a point of shopping there in support of the decision to tone down Black Friday.

And even if other retailers don't follow suit, University of St. Thomas marketing professor Dave Brennan tells the station REI's move may cause consumers to think again about whether they want to spend the day shopping.

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