REI made headlines last month after announcing that this year, on Black Friday, it would be closing all 143 of its stores and freezing online orders. The move has received praise from the retailer’s enormous base of loyal customers as well as the media. It’s safe to say that REI’s timely online campaign, #OptOutside, has been a big hit.

But let’s face it, REI has its reasons. Any company that shuts down online shopping on the most lucrative retail day of the year AND pays more than 12,000 employees to take that day off has to have an incentive.

In his comments on the campaign, Jerry Stritzke, the company’s CEO, quoted naturalist John Muir, who said that, “thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home.”

And maybe #OptOutside is just that – a genuine attempt from an altruistic company hoping to reunite America with the outdoors and save its customers from the full-contact sport that is Black Friday shopping.

Or maybe another reason behind this movement can be found amid the countless online conversations taking place:

“REI will be getting lots of my business for the courage to close on #BlackFriday to thank their team,” one man posted on Twitter.

Could #OptOutside be a media play to heighten awareness among customers before the Christmas season?

Whatever the case may be, the #OptOutside campaign is just flat out good PR. It’s timely, shocking, engaging and historic. Basically, it’s catnip for media.

Any way you look at it, REI’s #OptOutside campaign will have an impact over the next several months. Especially considering that after the Black Friday rush is said and done, the company will be riding momentum from an incredible amount of media and consumer attention into the busiest shopping season of the year.