On the REI home page, visitors are greeted with the hashtag #OptOutside and thoughtful reflections on the holiday season:
“Imagine if everyone felt welcome on the outside.”
Click on the “Choose With Us” call to action and you’ll be taken to a landing page that describes the history of REI’s nonprofit efforts, why they do it, and encourages donations rather than purchases. This year, as in the previous 7 years, REI will not participate in Black Friday.
Encourage your employees as well as potential buyers to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. This holiday tradition for the company was carried on last year even in the midst of the unprecedented hardship retailers around the world are facing due to COVID-19. An event that caused many to rethink not only how they sell products, but also how they attract and support their customers.
Closing on holidays – a new trend?
It seems that the decision of many retailers to close their physical stores on Thanksgiving has not only shown positive results in 2020, but may be becoming an ongoing trend. Major stores such as Target, Walmart, Best Buy and a few others are committed to staying closed during the holidays, while several other grocery retailers are severely restricting their opening hours.
Yes, many of the stores listed here have invested heavily in their e-commerce platforms, but the fact remains that they are still committed to closing.
Stay true to your core business values
Black Friday this year is likely to be very similar to 2020. There will not be so many personal attempts and attempts to get discounts. And more and more consumers will turn to online shopping. According to Digital Commerce 360, they expect spending to grow by just 6%, which is a sharp drop from 20% growth in 2020. However, this was to be expected due to how unique the impact of COVID on consumer spending and business has been. reactions.
The good news is that this remains a positive trend that can help you make up for lost sales. But at the same time, this does not mean that you have to sacrifice your core business values to do so.
If you have refused to be open on Black Friday in the past, you should consider doing so again. In a year still filled with uncertainty and challenges, this is just a small way to show that you care about your community, the well-being of your customers and employees. And that even when faced with financial difficulties, they can expect you to stand your ground.
Best Black Friday Alternatives for 2021
All of this being said, doesn’t mean you can’t develop a strategy to boost your holiday sales. As we said, it will be a very different Black Friday. This means there are now completely different sales and brand awareness opportunities that don’t require you to be open on Thanksgiving. Here are the best Black Friday alternatives for 2021.
1. Prepare for Small Business Saturday
Originally conceived by American Express, the Saturday for Small Business program has become for small businesses what Black Friday is for large chains—an opportunity to offer discounts to shoppers around the holidays. The day was officially recognized by Congress in 2015, making it an official part of the holiday shopping season.
Holding exclusive sales and promotions the day after Black Friday is perhaps the easiest way to take full advantage of the day. It also gives you the opportunity to avoid direct competition from the big retailers. Still closing the store for the holiday.
2. Focus on Cyber Monday
Black Friday usually gets all the attention, but in fact, Cyber Monday is technically the biggest shopping day of the year. This is because the focus is on online sales rather than in-person sales, and because those who have opted out of Black Friday are starting to shop. Plus, Cyber Monday usually stretches out over the entire week, which means you’re not limited to just one day of sales.
Thus, you have a potentially larger audience of buyers and a larger window for promotions. Sounds like a win-win, right?
Well, keep in mind that many other companies know that Cyber Monday is the best day to sell. So while the buying pool is larger, you can expect a lot more competition. If only there was a way to avoid this…
3. Turn Black Friday/Cyber Monday into a monthly holiday sale
While Adobe predicts overall sales will increase this year, they also expect these normally week-long promotional days to turn into monthly sales. Again, this is due to more people shopping online, as well as changing blocking criteria for physical storefronts. And it can help keep you from spending big money on digital advertising to compete the week after Thanksgiving.
This year there is not much pressure to squeeze sales in such a short period of time. In fact, there are more benefits to changing products, promotions, and prices throughout the season to see what resonates best with your customers. This way you can expand on any deals that drive sales and quickly remove those that just don’t move the needle.
4. Turn your Black Friday sale into a fundraiser
If you want to avoid engaging in the compulsive consumerism that Black Friday provides, there is another option besides opting out. Turn your sales into fundraisers for your favorite charity or non-profit organization. Instead of driving sales through deals, commit to donating all or at least a portion of every purchase instead.
It turns what is usually a frantic struggle for something into an initiative that helps those who really need it. You can still run this campaign after Black Friday and make sure your employees are taken care of during the holiday.
And while it may not lead to more sales, it does make your audience feel good while shopping. Now as they move forward, they will associate your brand with initiatives they care about, potentially turning them into lifelong advocates.
5. Host an online event
Online events and video chats have become the new norm in 2020. Many companies have already converted their annual in-person events to virtual ones, so why not do the same for their Black Friday sale?
Either through a webinar hosting platform or just live streaming on social media, you can turn what would be just another sale into a must-see presentation. Tell us about new products or services, get access to additional promotions as more people join, and even run holiday giveaways exclusive to those who participate.
The benefit is that you can still opt out of the official Black Friday sale. By limiting time to 1-2 hours, you can still prioritize your employees who have time to spend with friends and family. And it becomes a community building initiative rather than just a sale, meaning you can keep an eye out for additional holiday promotions after the event.
Should you skip Black Friday?
Follow REI’s advice and go outside. Take advantage of alternative selling opportunities this year and prioritize the needs of your employees.
Your employees will thank you and you will keep in touch with your community.
So sit back, relax, and grab an extra piece of the pie Thursday night—no long lines or angry mobs.
* Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2013 and has been updated for 2021.