REI CEO Says Closing On Black Friday Is A 'Radical Idea'

Jerry Stritzke tells HuffPost Live the choice is "central to the brand."

REI will be sacrificing one of its top business days when it closes its 143 retail stores on Black Friday to encourage customers to spend time outside.

CEO Jerry Stritzke told HuffPost Live on Wednesday that the decision to close up shop for the day wasn't "made lightly," and admits that "it's a bit of a startling idea from a retail perspective."

"[We] certainly had to think hard about it. This is new news. I haven't spoken to very many of my contemporaries about the issue, but I'm excited by the idea," Stritzke said. "I think it's intriguing that we can create this conversation [about] something so central to our brand and kind of who we are."

This is the first time REI will close on Black Friday, even though the day after Thanksgiving has historically been a "top 10 business day" for the company, according to Stritzke. However, the company's decision exemplifies some retailers' recent opposition to keeping stores open on what is traditionally a family holiday, and the day after.

Online shoppers will still be able to purchase items from REI on Black Friday, though they'll initially be directed to a blackout screen imploring them to explore the outdoors. Online sales aren't the initiative's priority, however.

"It's easier to leave [the website] on than turning it off," Stritzke explained.

Watch Jerry Stritzke's conversation with HuffPost Live in the clip above.

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