Black Friday, it may just be America’s least favorite day of the year. Data shows social media sentiment toward Black Friday has become increasingly negative over the past five years. On top of that, dialogue around the shopping holiday has dropped off significantly. With so many consumers becoming increasingly less enthusiastic about the Black Friday buzz, why do so many retailers feel the need to still join in?

Opting to Opt Outside

Last year REI stood up to the notion that retailers have to participate in the Black Friday madness when they launched their #OptOutside campaign. Instead of advertising door buster deals, REI declared that they would close their doors on Black Friday and pay all of their employees to spend the day outside with their loved ones.

While initially the idea seemed insane to skip out on the biggest shopping day of the year, REI saw a 10% boost in website traffic on Thanksgiving and a 26% increase on Black Friday. In addition, the retailer received a large amount of free press, got 1.5 million people on social media to join their #OptOutside movement and saw an overwhelmingly positive response to the campaign from the public.

Jumping on the Bandwagon

While other brands haven’t been quite as courageous in standing up to the monster that is Black Friday, they have taken steps to fight back. This year, Mall of America announced they wouldn’t be opening their doors until 5am on Friday, allowing mall employees to spend Thanksgiving with their families. This announcement came during the same year other retailers continued to push the boundaries of Black Friday. JC Penny, for example, opened their doors at 3pm on Thanksgiving Day.

Continuing the trend of fighting against Black Friday bleeding into Thanksgiving, the TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods family of brands released a joint ad touting their brand values that they too wouldn’t be open until Friday so their employees could spend Thanksgiving with their families. The most groundbreaking of the new anti-Black Friday movement came from Patagonia, who remained open on the unofficial holiday, but decided to donate the entirety of their Black Friday sales to help save the environment.

The Future of Black Friday

Here’s the deal- Black Friday is a major moneymaker for retailers and likely won’t be going away anytime soon. That’s why despite the public’s negative feelings toward retailers continuing to creep into their Thanksgiving, they continue to open earlier and earlier. But if brands are listening to their customers they’ll realize many of them are over the insanity. They don’t want to spend Thanksgiving away from their families (as a consumer or employee), they don’t want to stand in long lines and they don’t even think the deals are that great. On top of it all, evidence shows consumers give a lot of credit to brands that put people over profit.

Ethics based marketing can work as long as it fits the principals of the brand. So while it may not make sense for big box retailers like Walmart, Target and JC Penny to close their doors on Black Friday, they may want to consider scaling back and letting Thanksgiving have its day again.



Nicole Knox

Nicole has a passion for telling stories through multimedia. Her experience spans across industries from consumer brands to B2B clients. With a differentiated point of view, her experience allows her to find the story in any brand and tell it in a unique and engaging way to communicate effectively with their audience.