REI Co-op reports 2020 financials, launches new Cooperative Action initiative to engage members in the fight for life outside
New advocacy network will harness the collective impact of the co-op’s 20-million-member community
Apr 14, 2021
Despite unforeseen challenges in 2020, the co-op made bold investments in the future of its business: selling its headquarters buildings to imagine an entirely new future of office work, taking the co-op carbon neutral, investing in retail pay, making a commitment to racial equity that will impact every area of the company, and rolling out innovative new offerings like virtual outfitting and Curbside Pickup within a matter of weeks.
“We entered 2020 with incredible momentum, after more than a decade of record growth. Then, the entire world came to a halt. We regrounded ourselves in our values, making choices that at times came at great cost to our business. But we took the long view and continued to put our people first, quickly pivoting to find new ways of serving our customers and community,” said REI President and CEO Eric Artz. “That approach turned out to be the right thing for our people and for our business, and allowed us to enter 2021 not just in a position of financial strength, but proud of who we were when the times were least certain.”
The co-op reported no profits in 2020 but ended the year in a strong cash position and debt-free, after investing millions in its impact work: combatting the climate crisis, fighting for racial equity and supporting its network of nonprofit partners. Now REI is launching the next chapter of that work, inviting its broader co-op community to take action.
“Our co-op was founded on the principle of individuals coming together for the greater good. Now, the stakes have never been higher for our planet, ourselves and future generations,” Artz said. “Today we’re announcing Cooperative Action - a new initiative to harness the collective power of our 20-million-member, 15,000-employee community to combat the most pressing issues facing our industry and society—climate change and racial equity.”
As part of the Cooperative Action platform, REI is inviting members, employees, and customers to join a new grassroots advocacy network in support of a more sustainable and equitable future for the outdoors. Whether it involves writing a member of Congress, signing a petition, or submitting a public comment, anyone can visit the REI Cooperative Action Network to receive updates from the co-op on how they can act on some of the most pressing issues facing the outdoor community.
REI is also asking its community to take action by shopping responsibly and seeking out alternatives to new items. Used gear simultaneously lowers the barrier to entry for an outdoor activity and keeps products out of landfills. Every used item purchased through REI represents, on average, at least a 50% reduction in carbon emissions when compared to buying a new item. Over the last four years, REI expanded its offerings to allow customers to shop for used gear at a lower price point either in-store or online and launched a new member trade-in program that allows REI members to give new life to their gently used gear.
In addition to offering customers options to purchase used gear, REI is also working to ensure that every purchase at the co-op supports better ways of doing business. All products in REI stores must adhere to the co-op’s newly updated Product Impact Standards, which include expectations for how REI and its more than 1,000 vendor partners are addressing carbon reduction, inclusive marketing practices and cultural designs in their products. As part of these standards, all REI Co-op brand products are now certified Climate Neutral in addition to products from over 30 other certified brands.
REI will look to further engage members in its impact work in the coming year and introduce more ways for the community to lighten its footprint and participate in Cooperative Action.
“As a community united by our shared love for life outdoors, together we can drive the progress we need to make towards a more sustainable and equitable future for our planet,” Artz said.
- $2.75 billion in revenue
- Invested $6.3 million in more than 400 nonprofit partners
- Welcomed 1 million new members to the co-op
- Doubled online used gear sales
- Unveiled an ambitious new climate platform with the goal to reduce carbon emissions by 55% by 2030
About the REI Co-op
REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of 21.5 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 179 locations in 42 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI Outlet or the REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company that runs more than 100 itineraries across the country. In many communities where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.