REI and GameStop Closed on Thanksgiving Day: Why This Is Good News for Online Retailers

REI Black Friday promotion - stores closed on Thanksgiving Day in 2015

This year, we’re seeing a growing number of brick-and-mortar stores closed on Thanksgiving Day. In a bold move, GameStop announced last month that it would not be open on Thanksgiving, directing shoppers to its website, which it promises will be “open all day and taking orders.” Other retailers are joining in, encouraging their customers to spend the holiday with their families and, if they still want to participate in holiday shopping, head online instead.

Why are national brands closing their doors during the holidays? To build brand reputation.

When businesses announce their intentions to remain closed on Thanksgiving Day, they have a deliberate purpose. The announcement itself demonstrates to the public how family-focused the business is by choosing to allow employees to spend the holiday with loved ones. That compassion toward employees could encourage customer loyalty, since some consumers consider the philosophy of a business when choosing where to shop.

REI has shocked the market by going even further, announcing that it will allow employees to take Black Friday off as well. Instead of spending the day after Thanksgiving shopping, REI recommends its customers spend the day outdoors, even going so far as to launch a hashtag, #OptOutside, that customers can use to share on social media what they’re doing that day. While REI is encouraging customers to go outside, it’s also reassuring consumers that their website is open, if they want to shop.

Why is this news good for online small businesses?

Couple this news with the fact that more customers are buying their gifts online this year, this holiday season is shaping up to be a great opportunity for online businesses.

If customers are encouraged to stay home and shop online on those all-important shopping days like Thanksgiving and Black Friday, small online retailers should be prepared to find a way to direct some of those customers to their sites. One great way small online retailers can reach customers is by using hashtags on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to reach customers who might be looking for Black Friday deals. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving or Black Friday to send emails sharing your deals. Make sure potential customers know well in advance what you’ll be offering and send a reminder once the sale is live.

Just as Black Friday has crept into Thanksgiving Day, Cyber Monday now starts almost as soon as the turkey has been carved. Whether you use social media, email or a combination of both to get the word out, be sure your online business starts sharing holiday sales with customers as soon as possible.

For more holiday selling and shipping tips, check out our ecommerce tips and trends page.

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