Some retailers pushing for employee happiness this holiday season

With the National Retail Federation reporting approximately 92.1 million consumers taking part in post-Thanksgiving sales and deals, for most Americans “Black Friday” is simply a term synonymous with shopping trips lasting as many as 24 consecutive hours.

Surprisingly, however, the actual Black Friday sales events have been moving progressively closer to Thanksgiving for the last couple of years. Following this trend, some stores even have their doors open for business on Thanksgiving, before the turkey has even had a chance to cool. The National Retail Federation reports a 27 percent increase from 2012 of people shopping on Thanksgiving Day.

For many, this represents a change in the common perspective of Thanksgiving, from a holiday dedicated to family to a shopping mania, but for many workers the new tradition physically withholds them from their planned family festivities.

While Thanksgiving week has always been a lucrative week for many businesses, some retailers have made the decision not to partake in Black Friday or Thanksgiving sales this year.

The majority of retailers making a change have elected to stay open for Black Friday, but not Thanksgiving. This trend is taking off in popularity, with a wide range of stores closing their doors for Thanksgiving this year. These businesses include Nordstrom, Lowe’s, Barnes & Noble and Sam’s Club, among others.

A select few retailers are taking this a step further by not even opening the next day. Mostly smaller, family owned stores are taking the more employee-friendly route of closing on this Black Friday, such as MadCat of Wisconsin, which will be closed for the entire day on Black Friday.

One especially notable retailer is trying to make a stand by ignoring Black Friday. REI, a Seattle-based store which sells recreation and sports goods, is closing the doors to its 143 store locations this Black Friday. The business is also planning to pay its 12,000 employees for the day despite not being open, and encouraging them to have fun outdoors with their families.  “For 76 years, our co-op has been dedicated to one thing and one thing only: a life outdoors,” said Jerry Stritzke, the CEO of REI. “We believe that being outside makes our lives better, and Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of this essential truth.”

REI has even gone so far as to delay online orders made on Black Friday. Instead, the orders will be processed on Saturday. The company has coined the hashtag #OptOutside as a catchphrase for this movement.

Another dealer for outdoor apparel and goods has also followed in REI’s footsteps by closing their doors on the most busy shopping day of the year. Outdoor Research is using the day to show their thanks by giving a monetary contribution to the organization Paradox Sports, which is designed to help those with physical handicaps participate in outdoor activities. For every photo of customers’ outdoor activities posted on Twitter while tagging Outdoor Research (@ORGear), the company will donate $10 to Paradox Sports.

In addition to those companies closing for the entire day, certain retailers have opted to open later than the wee hours on Black Friday with similar intentions. Staples and Gamestop have both elected to not begin Black Friday sales until 6 a.m. so that their employees and customers can enjoy Thanksgiving without interruption.

Most stores closed for Thanksgiving will still have their websites up for shopping purposes on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, for those who don’t want to face the crowds.

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