In Focus: Blacking Out Black Friday?

By Aliah D. Wright Nov 2, 2015

REI Shuts Doors on Black Friday

Outdoor gear retailer REI recently announced plans to be closed on what many retailers consider one of the busiest holiday shopping days of the year—Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. It’s planning to close its website to online shopping, as well.

CBS reports that CEO Jerry Stritzke told employees via e-mail: “While the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we hope to see you in the great outdoors.”

Eligible employees will be paid that day, even though stores will be closed.

The company racked up $2.2 billion in sales last year.

REI isn’t the only retailer changing its habits on Black Friday. GameStop Corp. and Staples are planning to open later Nov. 27, as well. These stores face increased competition from online retailers, but are realizing additional savings by not having to pay employees overtime.

(CBS) and (ABC News)

Meanwhile, Back in the Office

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is urging retail employers to put safety measures in place that would keep workers from getting injured during major sales. Both shoppers and employees alike have been injured or killed on Black Friday—all in the name of bargain hunting.

According to a press release from The National Retail Federation, sales November and December are expected to increase 3.7 percent over last year to $630.5 billion. “Holiday sales in 2015 are expected to represent approximately 19 percent of the retail industry’s annual sales of $3.2 trillion,” the release states.

So maybe some companies aren’t hurting for the additional funds that Black Friday can bring. REI doesn’t seem worried about it.

And neither do other stores. The Wall Street Journal reports that GameStop, which used to open most of its more than 4,000 videogame stores on midnight Friday, says that this year it is opening “several hours later and [will] give its employees the holiday off. Executives also say staying closed helps employee morale.”

GameStop President Mike Buskey told the paper; “‘But you think, ‘Wow, we’ve killed that holiday for a lot of people for a lot of years.’”

(SHRM) (

Many Employers Allow Online Shopping

Employers for many years have known that some of their workers will shop online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday and have planned accordingly.

According to a study last year by Robert Half Technology, “more than one-quarter (27 percent) of senior IT professionals interviewed said their companies allow unrestricted access to shopping sites—an increase of 17 percentage points since 2012. Additionally, 42 percent said they allow access but monitor activity for excessive use.”

Less than one-third (30 percent) of respondents said their firms block access to online shopping sites.

Why the change?

“If you think about the amount of time it would take for someone to go out and do their shopping during lunchtime … that’s a time-consuming process,” said Hive Tech HR President Jeremy Ames, who is also a member of the Society for Human Resource Management’s Technology and HR Management Special Expertise Panel.

From a productivity standpoint, experts say, it may actually be better to allow employees to do their holiday shopping from their desks.

(The Wall Street Journal) and (SHRM)


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