Patagonia is a company known for taking counterintuitive positions (at least from a purely capitalist perspective) on Black Friday. In 2011, Patagonia took out a full-page ad in the New York Times with the tagline “Don’t Buy This Jacket” above one of its famous fleeces to call attention to how overconsumption is impacting the environment. This year the company went even further, announcing it would donate 100 percent of its global sales on Black Friday to grassroots environmental organizations, and the results were overhwhelming. Late Monday, Patagonia revealed that it had generated $10 million in sales on Black Friday.
The amount greatly exceeded Patagonia’s predictions. “We’re humbled….we expected to reach $2 million in sales—we beat that expectation five times over,” the company said in a statement. The move was certainly a bold one guaranteed to give less eco-conscious businesspeople agita. While other companies may donate a portion of profits to environmental or humanitarian causes, Patagonia is giving away gross revenue from all sales in stores and on its website. That means that on November 25, Patagonia brought in a goose egg, making zero dollars.
Despite the loss of revenue, Patagonia was excited about how its Black Friday initiative can lead to positive change. “Many of these environmental groups are underfunded and under the radar, and they are overwhelmed with your commitment,” Patagonia said. “This additional infusion of resources will go a long way toward addressing climate change and other serious environmental issues.”
While Patagonia’s decision to give away all of its Black Friday revenue to environmental organizations is a new one, the company has been a member of 1% For The Planet since 1985. Members agree to donate 1 percent of net annual sales (not just profits) to grassroots environmental organizations. To date, Patagonia has contributed $74 million. The fact that in one day it raised 13 percent of what it had done in 31 years is remarkable.
Recent events contributed to Patagonia’s Black Friday decision. (Though not specifically mentioned, it’s reasonable to infer that Donald Trump’s election played a role.) “During 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,” Patagonia CEO Rose Marciano said. “As people think generously about family and friends, we also want to help our customers show love to the planet, which badly needs a gift or two (and still gets coal every year).”