Black Friday: Retail vs. Recreation


Abbie Miller

Black Friday is a day that many American shoppers look forward to every year after Thanksgiving, strategically searching for the biggest, and best deals to begin their holiday shopping.  Instead of relaxing, and enjoying a nice Thanksgiving dinner, people begin to prepare for the mayhem even on the day of Thanksgiving.  They fill up on coffee and energy drinks in order to prepare for a long night of shopping.

In recent years, stores have begun to open their doors earlier to be accessible to all of the early, motivated shoppers.  This year, JCPenney will be opening at 3:00 pm Thanksgiving Day, and will remain open through Black Friday.  Old Navy will do the same, but their doors will be opening at 4:00 pm.  With stores being open longer, and the deals getting better, the National Retail Federation estimates that 137.4 million Americans are expected to shop throughout Thanksgiving weekend.  Additionally, 21% of these shoppers plan on shopping on Thanksgiving Day.

With all of the hype surrounding this wild weekend, one store is choosing to deviate from the norm.  REI, an outdoors and recreational retailer that is passionate about helping people to reconnect with the outdoors, made a company-wide decision to be closed on Black Friday.  Last year was the first year REI began this “Opt Outside” movement, paying its 12,000+ employees to take off the busiest shopping day of the year, and encouraging them to spend time doing activities outdoors.  This movement caught the attention of many people and companies, with more than 1.4 million people, and 170 companies opting to go outside.  This year, the number of people choosing to join the movement is already expected to double from last year.  Additionally, REI provides options for parks in whichever part of the country you live.

Whether you decide to “Opt Outside,” or you enjoy the rush of adrenaline surrounded by thousands of shoppers, there will many activities for each side of the spectrum this holiday weekend.