In recent years, the trend has been for companies to not just open early on Black Friday -- the day after Thanksgiving, which marks the traditional start of the holiday shopping season -- but to open on the holiday itself.
One company, outdoor sports equipment retailer REI, has decided to do something entirely different, opting not to open at all on what is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year. Instead, the retailer is urging people to go outside, an idea it's promoting on social media via "#optoutside".
Sean O'Reilly and Vincent Shen discuss this bold idea and the potential it has to influence other retailers.
Listen to the full podcast by clicking here. A full transcript follows the video.
Sean O'Reilly: On a lighter note, it seems that there's one retailer in particular that thinks Thanksgiving is sacred.
Vincent Shen: Yes.
O'Reilly: Who is this particularly human-minded retailer?
Shen: This is something I really appreciate when I found out about this. REI ...
O'Reilly: Outdoor ...
Shen: Retailer of a lot of outdoor goods, exactly. Outdoor sports equipment and things like that. They've basically said that they're not going to be participating in the frenzy that is Black Friday this year. They're launching a campaign #OptOutside. Basically, instead of people focused on shopping, they want people to spend that Friday outside, in nature, where they think it's a greater benefit for people overall.
O'Reilly: That's awesome. I wish we were a radio show and I had one of those buttons I could hit like an alarm bell or a "Yay!" That's a big deal. You see all these customers -- and even Amazon is trying to get in on the Black Friday thing -- they're opening up at midnight, they've got search lights in the parking lot.
Shen: That's the issue. I feel like there was a big trend where all these major retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Macy's, and J.C. Penney were all expanding their hours. Black Friday shopping originally started at 6 a.m., then it went to midnight, then it started pushing to Thanksgiving at 8 p.m., then 6 p.m. There was this trend where it was encroaching on what I considered to be a very important holiday, at least for family.
Then some stores started shifting away from that due to the bad publicity of making employees work on Thanksgiving to satisfy what is shopping desires. Some companies started opting out of opening on Thanksgiving, but keeping their Black Friday schedules. Now, I'm curious to see if this kicks off a new trend where companies -- it's obviously an important holiday for them, but it's not an end all, be all.
The holiday shopping season has expanded where it used to be really important just between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. Now companies are launching holiday season promotions in the beginning of November through December. That expansion of the shopping window means Black Friday's importance has actually shrunk a bit in terms of percentage of sales. I'm curious to see if this creates a trend where that frenzied time right after Thanksgiving starts losing its importance more and more.
O'Reilly: This actually makes me want to go buy something at REI.
Shen: I think it's a great idea. They've generally been a strong, great company with very forward-thinking policies regarding employees, customers, and things like that.
Shen: I'm not surprised by it, that they're launching this at all.
O'Reilly: Do you think this will be the start of something?
Shen: We'll see.
The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon.com and Costco Wholesale. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.