People Are Shunning Black Friday So They Can #OptOutside Instead

REI wants everyone to take a walk on the wild side.

Hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. are again expected to swap bargain-hunting for the great outdoors this Black Friday.

State and national parks across the country were for a second year in a row waiving their entry fees for the day or offering special activities in a bid to entice people away from frenzied shopping malls.

Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware and Minnesota State Parks are among the dozens of public organizations and private companies taking part in Seattle-based outdoor recreation retailer REI’s #OptOutside initiative.

REI is led by example when it shut up shop on Black Friday and gave its 12,000-plus employees a paid day off.

As a co-op, we share a simple belief that time in the outdoors makes us healthier and happier –- as individuals and as a society,” said REI CEO Jerry Stritzke, via a statement announcing the move in October.

This year, in particular, I worry about the divisive tone pulling at our nation’s fabric,” Stritzke added, in a reference to the U.S. presidential election campaign.

“In my experience, the outdoors is one of the great conveners–able to help people bridge divides,” he said. “We tend to put aside differences when we are presented with the magnificence of being in nature, no matter our beliefs or allegiances.”

An estimated 1.4 million people took part in 2015. This year’s participants are already posting pictures of their days out via the #OptOutside hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.