First Look

Who is, and isn't, taking a stand against Black Friday creep

While Amazon is jockeying for position on customers’ iPhones and in their mailboxes, others are reading the market differently – and taking a step back.

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    A mother and son pass a Gap clothing store window that has a notice for discount prices, Nov. 12 in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
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The world's largest online retailer announced Wednesday that it will start offering holiday deals this Friday – a whole week ahead of Black Friday.

Amazon says it will offer 8 days of discounts leading up to America’s biggest shopping day of the year, with an emphasis on “deals” for its mobile app and same-day delivery. While Amazon is jockeying for position on customers’ smartphones, others are reading the market differently – and taking a step back.

The state of Minnesota is hoping to lure residents out of the stores and into the great outdoors this Black Friday. The state will waive admission for 76 state parks and recreation areas for the day.

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith announced the state's “sale” on Friday from Fort Snelling State Park. Smith says the state of 10,000 lakes is trying to promote the outdoors and family time on a day dominated by trips to malls and shopping centers, The Associated Press reports.

Last year, roughly 134 million people shopped the web and in stores over Thanksgiving, according to the National Retail Federation, with 65 percent of those people shopping on Black Friday. Despite that large figure, retail sales dipped 11 percent last year over the four-day weekend.

That decline shows consumers are pacing themselves differently, and holiday shopping is no longer about one frenzied weekend of spending. 

Outdoor retailer REI will close its doors on Black Friday, and is encouraging all of its employees and would-be customers to head outside, using the motto a “life outdoors is a life well lived” and the hashtag #OptOutside across its social media channels. Digital orders will be delayed a day, and all of its 143 stores will be closed on Nov. 27.

That ethos is in line with REI, a brand that relies on messages of nature conservancy and outdoor outfitting for its rugged clientele. As Forbes puts it, “standing in long lines on Black Friday is the antithesis of [REI's]positioning.”

Similar statements are being made by retailers that want consumers to know that by being closed on Thanksgiving employees will be able to spend time with their families.  

This move is to combat the “Black Friday Creep” – as retailers open earlier and earlier to be able to entice shoppers with deals on Thanksgiving. BJ's, Costco, DSW, H&M, Nordstrom, and Staples will close all of its American stores on Thanksgiving Day.

Best Buy, Macy's, and Target have ceded most of Thanksgiving, but still plan to open at dinner time on Thanksgiving Thursday.

A petition on asks Target to change course, and stay closed on Thanksgiving. The petition has garnered more than 72,000 signatures as of this writing. 

“Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays that celebrates family and community, no matter your faith or cultural background,” Ryan Zeilman, who started the petition, and who has worked for the store for more than nine years, wrote on “The shoppers and sales can wait 24 hours so your workers can spend time with their families and friends.” 

Another plan is to opt out entirely. One UK-based group has renamed Black Friday "Buy Nothing Day." Their advice? "Switch off from shopping and tune into life." Whatever that means to you.

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