Not that you would know it by looking at the Christmas-themed displays in stores across the country, but the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord is still more than a month and a half away. We still have three weeks before the start of Advent.
But websites are already counting down to what many in our culture consider the official start of the Christmas season: Black Friday, when shoppers who are still digesting their Thanksgiving turkey and pumpkin pie battle each other to save a few dollars on bigger TVs or the latest gadgets.
Over the past several years, competition to get customers through their doors has led to retailers starting their sales earlier and earlier, as Black Friday has spilled over into Thanksgiving.
One retailer, however, has had enough.
Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), a member-owned co-op that sells outdoor and fitness gear in 143 stores throughout the United States, is locking its doors for the day and urging its customers to spend the day outside with friends and family.“We think that Black Friday has gotten out of hand,” the company’s CEO, Jerry Stritzke, told CNN. “You need people to go to the mountain; you need people to catch that outdoor bug,” he added.
Stritzke acknowledges the move is less risky for his company than it would be for others. “This business centers [on] the outdoors,” said Stritzke, who noted that REI employees will have the day off with pay. “Thus, we can do something like close our doors on Black Friday, and we’ll have the membership that’ll think that’s cool.” Whether it’s a marketing ploy or a sincere attempt to tamper down Black Friday, we applaud the effort to get people to focus on something other than consumerism — or, as Pope Francis described it in his encyclical Laudato Si’, the “whirlwind of needless buying and selling.”