REI posts record annual sales; commits to expansion of resale and rentals

Outdoor apparel and equipment retailer REI Co-op reported record-breaking annual net sales of $2.78 billion for 2018 on Tuesday and announced a series of initiatives aiming to promote equipment re-use in 2019.


Snowshoes, skis and snowboards will now be available for rental in 115 REI stores - Photo: REI Co-op
 
The retailer’s sales for the fiscal year ended December 29, 2018, represented a 6% increase from the $2.62 billion reported in fiscal 2017, while its net income grew from $30.53 million to $47.10 million.  
 
Over the course of the year, the co-op also welcomed more than 1 million new members, bringing its total membership up to over 18 million.
 
REI further highlighted that it invested $8.4 million into 431 nonprofits and returned $204 million to its members via dividends and credit card rewards in 2018.
 
“Today’s results show that doing good is good business. We have a strong foundation, but we must do more. As a community, we must confront the serious problems facing society,” said the co-op’s interim president and CEO, Eric Artz, in a release. “Most of the U.S. population is disconnected from nature, spending more time inside than outdoors. We need to reverse that trend. Spending time outside isn’t only good for people’s health. It connects people to something bigger – a desire to fight for the future of life outside.”

As part of its ongoing commitment to sustainability and making outdoor pursuits more accessible, REI also announced that it will be working towards adopting re-use as a “core business strategy” in 2019.

The co-op will therefore be expanding its gear rental program to include snowshoes, skis, snowboards, fully equipped camping and backpacking kits and more, which will be available in 115 of the retailer’s nationwide stores.
 
REI will also be exploring new options for used gear and gear trade-in services, both in store and online.
 
As well as being an important element of the co-op’s business ethos, this push for sustainability should help the retailer catch the attention of younger consumers, who, studies have consistently shown, are generally concerned by the ethical efforts of the brands they patronize. Furthermore, as pointed out by REI itself, 36% of millennials would rather rent than own a product, whether this be for economic or ecological reasons.
 
In a similar vein, the co-op has also announced the launch of its national “Find Out” campaign, which seeks to build on the success of its anti-Black Friday #OptOutside movement to inform the public of the mental and physical health benefits of participating in outdoor activities and of the importance of doing so in a sustainable manner.

Having opened five new locations in 2018, REI currently operates through 154 stores spread across 35 states and the District of Columbia.

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