Patagonia will donate 100% of its Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental organizations, according to a blog post published Sunday by the outdoor retailer's president/ CEO Rose Marcario.
Marcario said protecting the environment “is not in conflict with running a successful business,” a shot at businesses and politicians that often pit environmentalism against commercial interests. The company also supports reducing carbon emissions, building a modern energy economy with renewables and ensuring the United States commits to the Paris Climate agreement.
The donation is in addition to the 1% of annual sales the company already gives to such groups, which has so far totaled $74 million.
Patagonia didn’t name president-elect Donald Trump by name, but CEO Marcario did allude to the fact that the surprise outcome of the election has left some environmental advocates dejected and unsure about the future. For example, Trump has tapped climate-change skeptic Myron Ebell to oversee the transition from the Obama Environmental Protection Agency.
“[D]uring a difficult and divisive time, we felt it was important to go further and connect more of our customers, who love wild places, with those who are fighting tirelessly to protect them,” Marcario said. “This we know: If we don’t act boldly, severe changes in climate, water and air pollution, extinction of species and erosion of topsoil are certain outcomes. The threats facing our planet affect people of every political stripe, of every demographic, in every part of the country. We all stand to benefit from a healthy environment — and our children and grandchildren do, too.”
Wading into political territory can seem unwise for a retailer that wants to cater to a wide swath of the population, but evidence suggests consumers want companies to take a stand in political issues. A 2014 study by policy and communications firm Global Strategy Group found that 80% of respondents believe corporations should take action on important issues in society, up from 72% a year before. In addition, 79% say that it’s appropriate for enterprises to advocate on an issue pertinent to their industry (up slightly from 78%).
“Some would advocate that brands keep their morals to themselves and focus exclusively on what their customers (all their customers) depend on them for — products and services,” retail futurist Doug Stephens told Retail Dive earlier this year. “Others see it differently and fully expect that brands take positions on social, political and moral issues that impact the rights and well-being of their staff and customers. I personally believe that the true character and value system of any organization is defined by what it’s willing to lose money over.”
For Patagonia, the stance in favor of environmental protection jives with the interests of its customers, a confluence much like outdoor retailer REI’s #OptOutside campaign against Black Friday, which urges its employees and customers to spend the day outside instead of raking in deals on material objects.
This story is part of our ongoing coverage of the 2016 holiday shopping season. You can browse our holiday page for more stories.