REI urges you to protest by tagging #OptOutside and ignoring Black Friday this year
But will other retailers follow REI’s lead in #OptOutside?

Although the upcycled products at theSquirrelz.com cut down on waste production in the retail world, even we are guilty of catering to the siren-call of sales. Everybody loves a sale, and it seems no one loves a bargain more than China.

On the 11th of November, China ‘celebrates’ a phenomenon called Singles’ Day. What started as a day for singles to meet up has transformed into the largest online shopping day in the world. China’s biggest eCommerce website has been raking in sales, with a total amount of 14.3 billion USD in a single day this year.

While ‘11/11’ is still relatively unknown as a shopping day outside of China, sales days such as Black Friday have been consuming American shoppers on a yearly basis. Tensions between shoppers waiting hours, even days, for deals might run so high it escalates into Black Friday violence. Retailer REI has had enough of it and refuses to participate in this year’s Black Friday sale. Promotional stunt or not, their #OptOutside hashtag is gaining momentum.

REI is not alone in #OptOutside

The Walmart-owned British retailing giant Asda has hopped on the #OptOutside protest bandwagon too, stepping away from Black Friday this year. In its wake, numerous other retailers are closing for the holiday and sending their employees home for a paid vacation day.

Gamestop, H&M, Nordstrom, Costco. All have put their foot down this Thanksgiving in an attempt to curb sales from reaching dangerous levels. And although Walmart USA itself will be opening on Thanksgiving Day, in the UK Asda will not. Chief executive Andy Clarke takes credit for introducing the Black Friday holiday to the United Kingdom but now feels the time has come for change.

“When it comes to putting customers first, Asda has always led the way, which is why we’re just as confident in our decision to step away from Black Friday as we were in introducing it to the U.K.”-Andy Clarke

The #OptOutside website offers hiking trail information as an alternative

The #OptOutside campaign all started with REI, retailer of outdoor gear and supplies. Although their conflict of interest in encouraging people to go outside and appreciate the outdoors is obvious, keeping their 143 stores closed on the biggest US shopping holiday is an audacious move. However, regardless of this, their message is a positive one. On their website REI even provides shoppers with a selection of hiking trails to explore.

Being outside often can improve one's life in a variety of ways, whether therapeutic or physical. Much like Brian Kane and his nature billboards, REI tries to remind people to enjoy what we too often take for granted: the great outdoors.

Is REI’s campaign just an elaborate attempt at increasing sales?

The amount of attention that is given to REI and their #OptOutside campaign has been overwhelming. Of course, such attention will result in long-term profits, longer than a single day of sales would have provided them, as they spread out their Black Friday sales over time. But, at least, shoppers won’t be held captive by the chaos of lines and stress on Black Friday.

However, REI’s campaign wasn’t the first one taking a stand against Black Friday. The humorous card game Cards Against Humanity mocked the holiday with a ‘sale’ in which they raised the price of their product by 5 USD. This turned out to be the biggest day of sales in the history of the company.

#OptOutside might just be a very well executed marketing campaign, but through their campaign REI has been much more eco-conscious than other retailers. Well, played.

Originally published at thesquirrelz.com on November 12, 2015.

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