retail news in context, analysis with attitude

It was just a few months ago that Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) threw consumers a curve by saying that its stores would not be open on the day after Thanksgiving, the traditional beginning of the Christmas holiday shopping season, but rather was urging its associates - and customers - to go outside and take a hike. In fact, the associates were paid for the day, even though they weren't working.

Bloomberg reports that the contrarian position - which actually was totally in synch with its image and ethos - had an impact ... a positive one.

"The outdoor gear retailer on Tuesday reported $2.4 billion in sales last year, a 9.3 percent increase over 2014. Revenue at established stores ticked up 7 percent and digital sales surged 23 percent. In terms of volume of commerce, REI is fast closing in on Urban Outfitters Inc. and Tiffany & Co.

"REI also added almost 406,000 members to its co-op ranks, a 7.3 percent increase that brings its total just north of 6 million."

The story also notes that "REI probably never got much out of Black Friday anyway. Those in the market for ice axes or grizzly bear mace probably aren’t the same kind of retail animals who would maul one another for a $99 television. Thus REI’s marketing team not only tapped into its customers’ interests but also what a lot of them are decidedly not into."
KC's View:
I would expect that the Black Friday holiday will become an annual event at REI, as will the annual sales and profit increases.