REI to be closed on Thanksgiving, Black Friday

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- One of the nation's largest outdoor retailers will be paying its employees to stay home on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

REI surprised a lot of people by making that announcement Monday, but right now it doesn't look like many other retailers will be following suit because they rely so heavily on Black Friday.

REI is well-known for recreation. And whether it's hitting the slopes or pitching a tent customer Susan Klepper had nothing but praise for the retailer's decision to close all of its stores on Black Friday. "I'm really proud of what they're doing. I like the idea that they put families first in front of the bottom line," Klepper said.

But many other retailers won't be able to give up Black Friday as easily.

Industry watchers say big retailers that sell toys, clothes and electronics depend on sales generated during that day.

Some REI shoppers are a little bummed that they'll be missing out. "People get used to it, it's traditional. Why are they going to shut the doors? I don't think that is fair," East Palo Alto resident Pilar Sanchez said.

One of REI's biggest locally-owned competitors is the Sports Basement.

Sunnyvale Sports Basement Manager Eric Solberg said they'll be ready. "We are on the cusp of an El Nino winter, we've got tons of skis and snowboards, and gear for the outdoors and anybody looking for that stuff, we're
going to open and we're going to be here to take care of them," he said.

While REI will lose out in sales for the day, marketing experts believe they'll gain much more in Goodwill from its employees and customers. "I think it's great that they're telling their employees to stay home and they're not going to be a part of the whole Black Friday craziness," Los Gatos resident David Piehler said.

The move comes as Black Friday sales have been dwindling across the country.

The National Retail Federation says fewer people shopped over Thanksgiving weekend last year due to early discounts and more online shopping.

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