Friday, November 20, 2015

Closed...on Black Friday!?

REI announced it will not only be closed Thanksgiving Day, but it will not open its doors for Black Friday sales either! Many other retailers are following suit regarding staying closed on Thanksgiving night (but will be open for Black Friday), including Staples, Game Stop, Home Depot, and DSW, to
name a few.

A recent poll revealed that 47% of the participating shoppers think retail stores should stay closed on Thanksgiving, and not open their doors after the leftover turkey is put away. But, it is well-known that the day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year, bringing most retailers out of the red and safely into the black. So why is REI breaking the mold this year?

REI's announcement may have shocked fellow retailers, but it should not have come as that big of a surprise. REI’s mission focuses on their employees, with many employee-first policies, great health coverage, tools for wellness, and even sabbaticals. So, naturally, they would want to give them this time off to be with their families, celebrating the holiday.

It has been said that only well-known, big-box chains can afford to consider a drastic move such as closing on Black Friday. So, how could a small business or “mom and pop” shop survive – or even benefit from – such a closing?
  • With social media, early promotion of holiday sales before Black Friday for the first week of December could encourage shoppers to wait for the better price on a less crazy day; also, if you have e-commerce capabilities – you can promote and run sales any time you want!
  • Small communities, in particular, take note of businesses that care about their employees, and will be more inclined to shop there – during normal working hours!
  • Happy employees translate into more productive work, which leads to better customer service – and that will keep customers coming back again and again – whether you are open on Black Friday or not!
There's no doubt the risk is great in closing on the biggest shopping day of the year, but perhaps REI is on to something. Maybe if more retailers shift to employee health and family time first, big sales and a healthy business profile will follow.

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