Despite Black Friday closure, REI holiday sales climb

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Black Friday backlash has been on the rise in recent years, and perhaps no store has been a stauncher opponent than REI, which will be closed on Thanksgiving and Black Friday for the third year in a row. While closing on Black Friday has been a principled—rather than promotional—move, the decision didn’t hurt the company’s bottom line. Against odds, the first closure in 2015 actually coincided with an increase in year-over-year sales for Black Friday week.

Back in 2014, REI was open on Black Friday. Sales that week were strong, growing by 18 percent year-over-year. But, overall holiday-season sales grew only 2 percent, falling short of the company’s yearly sales growth by 10 percentage points. The next year, in 2015, REI announced it would stay closed on Black Friday, giving its employees and shoppers the chance to #OptOutside and enjoy nature instead of the retail frenzy.

Surprisingly, that year REI still managed 6-percent Black Friday week growth—impressive considering the store was open only five days that week, as opposed to six days the year prior. Monday and Wednesday saw the biggest gross sales increases, while Thanksgiving Day (online) sales quintupled from the year prior.

Then in 2016, REI’s holiday sales grew by 13 percent, finally outpacing yearly growth. Although Black Friday week sales declined, Cyber Monday week continued to trend upward. In 2016, Cyber Monday week sales grew 21 percent year-over-year, surpassing the week of Black Friday.

While the most recent Black Friday week sales show little movement from 2014 levels, REI’s stance on Black Friday never jeopardized its biggest sales week of the holiday season. That distinction goes to the last full week before Christmas, which saw sales increase by 15 percent over the past two years.

To see if REI can continue to #OptOutside without opting out of holiday sales growth, ask about starting a demo today.