REI reports $US34.5m loss for 2020

‘We entered 2020 with incredible momentum, after more than a decade of record growth. Then, the entire world came to a halt’

US outdoor retailer REI reported a net loss of US$34.5m (£25.04m) for the year ended 2 January 2020, down from a $21m (£15.24m) profit the previous year.

The co-op remains debt-free despite unforeseen challenges due to Covid-19, but will not be paying its regular annual dividend to members.

Net sales fell 11.9% to $2.75bn (£2bn) while retail revenue was down by 28% and digital demand was up by 58%.

Throughout 2020 the retailer invested $6.3m in more than 400 nonprofit partners. It also welcomed one million new members and witnessed a 100% increase in online used gear sales. The year also saw REI unveil a new climate platform with the goal to reduce carbon emissions by 55% by 2030.

“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 largest consumer co-op in the USA, REI has also launched a campaign to engage members, employees, and customers in a new grassroots advocacy network in support of a more sustainable and equitable future for the outdoors.

“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,” Mr 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 this initiative, members and supporters will encouraged to take a range of actions, from writing to a member of Congress, signing a petition, or submitting a public comment.

The REI Cooperative Action Network platform features updates from the co-op on how customers can act on some of the most pressing issues facing the outdoor community.

“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,” said Mr Artz.