Modcloth on election day is shutting down its website and its FitShop stores in Austin, Texas, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., to encourage its customers and employees to vote.
The vintage-inspired apparel site, now owned by Walmart, is also providing its office employees with flexible hours and paid time-off on election day, according to an email to Retail Dive. Further, Modcloth will provide all employees with a gift card for $30 that can be used for travel, on that day or any day, a Walmart spokesperson told Retail Dive.
Modcloth joins several other retail companies, including parent Walmart, in finding various ways to encourage and ease voting for its U.S. employees on or by Tuesday.
There is a particularly high level of energy around Election Day this year, coming at the mid-term mark of President Trump's term. Turnout is expected to be high.
Many workers cite their job obligations as a major deterrent to getting to the polls, and some advocate that the U.S. should make Election Day a holiday. But, as with all holidays except Easter, Christmas and increasingly Thanksgiving, people in retail would likely be expected to show up to work regardless.
Modcloth's move to shutter its website and stores recalls a similar move initiated by REI a few years ago to shutter on Black Friday to encourage its employees and customers to use their day off to enjoy the outdoors rather than shop. It was a counter-intuitive marketing move, a message from a retailer that some things are more important than shopping, that has turned out to be one of the outdoor retailer's most well-received campaigns.
The Election Day play could similarly resonate with Modcloth's core customers, who have been vocal about their appreciation for the retailer's inclusive policies around sizing and gender and have expressed themselves as a community through the company's blog and social media. As a Walmart unit, the brand now has the added task of holding onto its quirkiness and small-scale appeal.
"As you know voter turnout in the United States is low and most research shows the reasoning is often attributed to conflicting schedules, such as work hours," a Modcloth spokesperson said in a statement emailed to Retail Dive. "Since day one, Modcloth has championed self-expression and inclusivity — delivering experiences and enabling discovery that gives its consumer the freedom to express her true self. And with its community that is now over 5 million women strong, they are encouraging everyone to stand up, voice their opinions and 'Say It Louder.'"