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REI optoutside
An REI employee who opted outside and had her image shared on the company’s Instagram feed. (REI via Instagram)

For the second straight year, REI closed its brick and mortar stores and encouraged customers to #OptOutside rather than come in and spend money on Black Friday, the huge shopping day after Thanksgiving. And again, the effort paid off online for the Seattle-based outdoor retailer.

According to data shared by SimilarWeb, which tracks digital analytics, REI was among some of the more successful retailers when it came to increased web traffic around the holiday. averaged 431,000 daily visitors for desktop and mobile web from January to October 2016. On Thanksgiving day this year, the number was 549,00, a 31-percent increase over last year’s holiday total of 418,000.

On Black Friday, attracted 716,000 visitors, up 36 percent over 2015’s total of 525,000. And the traffic kept rolling all the way to Cyber Monday, where 1,019,000 visitors bumped the site 35 percent higher than 2015’s 756,000 visitors.

REI doesn’t comment itself on online sales or connect #OptOutside to sales figures directly, and instead focuses on how the movement encouraged an even greater following this year.

“We measure success by the 600 organizations who got more than 6 million people into the outdoors on Black Friday,” an REI spokesperson told GeekWire. “It was just amazing. #OptOutside has officially grown beyond REI.”

By closing its 149 store locations and paying all 12,287 of its employees to take the day off and enjoy the outdoors, the co-op was winning in ways measured beyond dollar signs. Once again, shoppers were free to use REI’s website, but orders were not processed until the following day.

Last year’s inaugural #OptOutside effort produced a 26-percent rise in Black Friday web traffic.

“We believe that being outside makes us our best selves — healthier and happier, physically and mentally. But as a nation we’re still spending over 90 percent of our lives indoors and it’s a trend we need to tackle,” REI CEO Jerry Stritzke said in a news release in October. “I love that there is a community of people in this country who dedicate their lives to that mission, so together, we are asking America “Will you go out with us?”

SimilarWeb’s analytics offered a benchmark for year-over-year traffic change for the top 25 online retailers in the U.S. On Thanksgiving, the top 25 were up 11.8 percent this year. Black Friday saw a jump of 16.1 percent and Cyber Monday was up 21.5 percent.

Other retailers with significant year-over-year increases in web traffic, according to SimilarWeb, included fellow outdoor company, which saw a 93-percent jump in Thanksgiving shoppers, a 99-percent jump on Black Friday and a 71-percent increase compared to 2015 on Cyber Monday. also posted big number increases, up 50.2 percent on Thanksgiving, 33.5 percent on Black Friday and 23.1 percent on Cyber Monday.

SimilarWeb reports that traffic to Nordstrom’s was up 8 percent on Thanksgiving, when its stores were closed, but down 5 percent on Black Friday and 2 percent on Cyber Monday.

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