REI has been an outdoor fixture in my life since I moved to Colorado in the 1990s. On Saturday I attended REI’s Berkeley Store 40th anniversary celebration. It was an excellent event that included REI demonstrations and give-aways, presentations from outdoor non-profit partners, food, and best of all Sierra Nevada beer. The event also inspired me to think about REI’s impact on the US outdoors.
I attended on behalf of the San Mateo County Park Foundation (where I’m a board member) and the San Mateo County Parks (SMCP). REI sponsors the SMCP volunteer programs with a generous donation. The donation have gone toward building hiking trails (where I’m a volunteer trail leader) including the Bay Area Ridge Trail around the Bay Area, opening up new parks like the redwood Loma Mar addition of the Memorial Park, and supporting multiple SMCP programs & friends group.
REI’s impact on the San Mateo’s Parks is strong, but REI’s reach in the US outdoor industry is unparalleled. It gave ~$8M to outdoor groups in 2014. The numbers makes REI’s role even more impressive:
- Drives Revenues of ~$2.2 Billion (2014) and growing ~10% YoY
- Operates 138 stores in 38 states
- Drives average revenue per of store of ~$15.9M (including online & REI travel)
- Supported by 5.5M million Coop members – covering ~2% of total US population or ~4% of US households
- Generated $44M net income after tax and REI member dividends
REI donates ~18% of its net income to non-profits like the San Mateo County Park Foundation – which is tremendous.
Benchmarking REI’s scale in the outdoor industry makes it even more impressive. REI’s US revenues are bigger than the worldwide sales of the two largest outdoor brands combined. The North Face had worldwide 2013 revenues of ~$1.5B, and Patagonia had 2014 revenues of ~$0.6B. REI’s $2.2B is bigger than the combined $2.1B in revenues.
Comparing REI to other retailers highlights that the outdoor retail industry is good sized but not as large as others. Dick’s Sporting Goods sells a broad range of athletic equipment, shoes, and apparels. Dick’s 2014 revenues of ~$7B are over three times larger than REI. Walmart’s 2014 worldwide revenues of $480B are over 200 times larger than REI.
REI is a significant contributor to getting people outdoors and funding our nation’s open spaces. It a major player in the outdoor retail industry. As a long time volunteer with the San Mateo County Parks and the Trail Center, I will always appreciate REI’s support. It’s impact is significant and appreciated.