Amid COVID Craziness, REI Asks Consumers to Again #OptOutside

REI #OptOutside

Ski resorts and other outdoor recreation areas will have a different look and feel this winter with many more enthusiasts hitting the trail, but a familiar rite to kick off the season returns with REI Co-op again asking outdoor adventurists to #OptOutside.

Because, really, who wants to visit a crowded shopping mall anytime — but especially during a global pandemic?

So for the sixth straight year, the Seattle-based outdoor retailer will close all 167 locations — including stores, activity centers, distribution centers, call centers and headquarters — and pay its more than 13,000 employees to #OptOutside on Black Friday, this year on November 27.

REI began closing its doors on this traditional “first day of Christmas shopping” since 2015, instead imploring consumers to stay away from retail stores and spend the day outside with family and friends.

“In the middle of everything, we have watched as people all over the world – some of them for the first time – looked to time outside to reflect, restore and connect to one another,” REI CEO Eric Artz wrote in a letter to employees and members. “In this year of unprecedented challenges staying true to our purpose, living our values and caring for our people and communities is more important than ever.”

REI said “the decision to close again on Black Friday comes as the coronavirus pandemic has forced many retailers, including REI, to reimagine how they served customers and communities. Despite unprecedented disruptions to its business, REI remained committed to its core values by prioritizing the health and safety of its employees, continuing to support nonprofits, giving employees and members the tools and information to vote and recently announcing a sweeping carbon commitment to steward the planet for future generations.”

Trails and other outdoor recreation playgrounds have already been crowded, so look for that trend to continue on Black Friday.

“One of the gifts that time outside offers is perspective — on our own lives, on our work and on the places where those intersect,” Artz wrote. “We are focusing on what matters most — on caring for one another, caring for our community, and sharing the connection brought by time outside.”

Photo courtesy REI Co-op

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Longtime business writer Eric Smith is the founder of Snowsports Business Report. Reach him at or 901-573-9156.