FAQs regarding REI's store closures and reopening plan

REI Community Manager
REI Community Manager
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Last updated: 7/21/2020
Across the co-op, we look forward to assisting you. As the majority of our stores have reopened for in-store shopping and returns, service may be slower than usual due to our COVID-19 safety protocols for staff and customers.



Q: When will REI stores reopen? 

A: After two months of temporary closures, we have now reopened the majority of our stores for in-store shopping and returnsIn every case, we are taking precautions to ensure the health and safety of our employees, customers and communities. As a result, you may experience longer than usual wait times when visiting your local REI Co-op. Thank you for your patience as we work to keep everyone healthy and safe.

Q: When my local REI reopens, can I expect employees will be wearing face coverings and will I be required to do so?

A: Employees are required to wear face coverings while in REI locations, including stores, distribution centers and any location being staffed by employees who are deemed ‘essential personnel.’ In addition, we are also requiring all customers wear face coverings while at an REI store and will be providing disposable face coverings for anyone who does not have one.

Q: As REI stores begin to reopen, are there any delays I should expect?

A: We like to be transparent, so we want to let you know that due to higher-than-usual demand and contacts, our return processing times, inventory and deliveries, and phone and Live Chat  responses are taking longer than we’d like. 

Specifically, shipping of bike orders may be delayed up to 3 weeks. In addition, you may also experience longer than usual wait times for both in-store visits and curbside pickup. Further, due to current worldwide shipping impacts, estimated delivery time for international orders can be up to 2 months (excluding Customs clearance).

Finally, return processing is taking longer than usual. Refunds are currently issued within 3 to 4 weeks after we receive your package. Note: it may take up to 3 additional weeks for your bank to refund your credit card or for a refund check to arrive.

You can always visit our Help Center for answers to many of your questions and please know that our goal is to continue to serve our valued co-op members and customers, fulfill orders to get your awesome gear to you, while keeping us all safe. Thanks for your patience! 

Q: Now that my local REI store has reopened for in-store shopping, what changes should I expect from my regular shopping experience?

A: This is a great question, as we are operating our stores differently to prioritize employee and customer health and safety. You can watch a quick video to get a sense of some of these changes; in addition, here are a few specifics you should expect the next time you come into an REI:

  • Our employees will be wearing face coverings and we are requiring that our customers do the same.
  • We will be limiting the number of people allowed in our stores, which may result in lines and delays to enter.
  • We are implementing socially distanced queues at our entrances, cash registers and shop counters. In addition, we have installed plexiglass shields at all registers.
  • We will be offering socially distanced fit services and queuing in specific departments, like footwear, bikes, packs.
  • Some of our products will not be available for test/try-on, including sunglasses, binoculars, watches and ground pads. Tents can be set-up but not unzipped or entered. You'll need to bring your own bike helmet to do an outdoor test ride and your own socks to try on shoes.
  • Fitting rooms may be closed, dependent on local ordinances.
  • Our employees will be cleaning high-touch surfaces, like shopping carts, baskets and debit/credit keypads, frequently.
  • Most locations are able to perform rack installs, contact your local store for availability and details.
  • Our climbing walls remain closed.
  • Rentals are now available at select locations, noting that hours/days and available categories may vary. Please contact your local store for their specific rental availability.
  • Hours of operation are also limited and can change unexpectedly – check your local store page for the most up-to-date information.
  • Bike shop services, returns, and curbside pickup will all be available when stores reopen.

We recognize this is a different experience than you’ve had in the past, but we also want to make it clear what hasn’t changed: our commitment to friendly, welcoming and authentic interactions with our members and customers. If you have any questions about what services we’re offering in your local REI, if we’re open, or store hours, you can find that here. See you soon!

Q: I need advice on a future purchase, but I'm not yet comfortable coming into a store. What are my options for getting help?

A: We know some of our customers aren't yet ready or comfortable heading into an REI store, but we still want to help! Here are a few options for getting virtually connected to REI expertise:

  • Book a free virtual outfitting appointment where you can video chat with an REI employee about any product questions you may have, including fit.
  • Post a question here in the community and have REI employees and other community members weigh in.

Q: How can I help the co-op during this unprecedented time?

A: It’s questions like these that make us so proud to be part of the co-op community. Here is a letter from our CEO that suggests a few ways you can help the co-op during this time. The simplest way is to do what so many of you are already doing – continuing to be loyal REI customers. Another way is to join the co-op, if you’re not already a member. You can support a local outdoor non-profit organization through the Outdoor Emergency Fund. And finally, consider contributing to the 100 Million Mask Challenge.

Q: What else is REI doing to help during the COVID crisis?

A: REI has joined Protecting People Everywhere, a companion program that matches organizations that can donate PPE with local hospitals based on need. We are committing $100,000 to help get these medical professionals the protection they need.   



Q: What if I want to buy something? What if I need help with the fit of a new item?

A: We can help! REI.com and our contact center are still open for business, noting that we are experiencing delays in some aspects of our business and appreciate your patience as we work to safely get your awesome outdoor gear to you. For help deciding on a new item that may require a specific fit, like a bike, a pair of shoes, or a backpack, please book a free virtual outfitting appointment.

Q: Can I pick up an order in-store? 

A: This depends a bit on where in the country you are. Almost all of our stores are offering curbside pickup, and in addition, nearly all of our stores are now open to the public - you will find information on our local REI pages. Note that you may experience longer than usual wait times and we appreciate your patience as we work to keep our employees and customer healthy and safe. 



Q: What are my options for returning if my local REI store has not yet reopened?

A: You have a few options for processing a return with us. You can always wait until your local store reopens, knowing that we have extended our return policy to ease concerns about returns timelines (see FAQ on return window for details). If waiting for your local store to reopen does not work for you, you can send your return back to us through the mail. Using our Returns Portal, you can print a return shipping label and return packing slip (some exclusions apply); find details for mailing your return in our Help Center.

Due to high demand, our returns process is currently taking longer than usual. Thank you for your patience as we work to expand our processing capacity as quickly and safely as possible. Refunds are currently issued within 3 to 4 weeks after we received your package. Note: it may take up to 3 additional week for your bank to refund your credit card or for a refund check to arrive.

Q: Why can’t I return an item curbside when I am able to pick something up curbside?

A: We are not yet offering curbside returns as this process is more complex and introduces additional risk for our employees and customers.

Q: I need to exchange an item. How can I do this while my local REI store is closed?

A: Nearly all of our stores have reopened and are accepting returns. If your local REI store has not yet reopened, there are 2 ways to process an exchange:

  • You can order the new item you want on REI.com and wait until your local REI store reopens to return the original item.
  • You can order the new items you want on REI.com and mail the original item back to us for a refund (return instructions via mail).

If your exchange has any specific pricing consideration (ex: application of a coupon, difference in price, use of your dividend), please call us at 1-800-426-4840 for assistance.

Q: What if I miss my return window because my local store has not yet reopened?

A: In response to our store closures over the last 2+ months, we’ve updated our return policy so any electronics purchased after 12/15/19 (and therefore hitting the 90-day mark while we’re closed) and any other merchandise purchases after 3/15/19 (and therefore hitting the 1-year mark while we’re closed) may be returned once our stores reopen and are accepting returns. Everything else is subject to our standard return policy.

Q: I’m shopping for a bike but have heard that shipping is taking longer than usual – what can I expect?

A: The extended closure of our retail stores created unprecedented operational disruption at the co-op. This means that some items, in particular bikes which must be assembled by our trained bike technicians before we ship them to you, may be delayed, although we have adjusted our estimated arrival dates to be as accurate as possible. As mentioned above, shipping of bike orders may be delayed up to 3 weeks. 



Q: What are my options for bike service, even if my local REI store has reopened? 

A: Even if your local REI bike shop has reopened, we recognize that you may want a little help putting a new bike together or fixing an existing bike that needs a little work. 

  • For new bike assembly, we have an REI Expert Advice bike assembly video that will walk you through the couple of steps required to get you ready to ride! 
  • Our bike shops are offering zero-contact bike shop services by appointment only; please call them for appointment availability and instructions. 
  • If you would prefer remote assistance with a technical question, please email our team of bike technicians at cyclinghelp@rei.com and we will connect with you within a few days. 

Q: What does this mean for a past-due rental return?

A: Although most of our stores have reopened, our rental operations have not resumed at all locations. If your local REI store has not resumed offering rentals, you can still return your rental gear; you'll just need to return it to the store's Customer Service team. Unfortunately, we are not yet able to accept rental returns using our curbside pickup service. Finally, no late fees will be assessed for rentals affected by our store closures.



Q: I am confirmed for a local experience/event/tour/class in my community. Is that cancelled?

A: All of our local experiences, events, tours and classes are cancelled until further notice. Registered attendees of paid programs will receive a 100% refund. To provide you with flexibility in your plans through the summer, if you wish to cancel or transfer due to health or safety concerns related to COVID-19, REI will waive our 48-hour cancellation requirement.

Q: My local experience/event/tour/class was cancelled but I have not seen my refund. What should I do?

A: If your class is in the next week, please email customer-support@rei.com with your registration confirmation number, date of your event/class, your name and your email address. If your class is not for a few weeks, we would greatly appreciate your patience as we process a large amount of refunds.

Q: Does this have any implications for REI’s adventure travel business?

A: For a number of weeks, REI Adventure Travel has been proactively communicating with guests about COVID-19 to answer questions and help them prepare for their active vacations. We have also been monitoring updates from the U.S. State Department, CDC, and WHO and keeping in contact with our local teams for updates.

Increasingly, there are ever-changing entry and exit requirements for many countries and travel restrictions are being implemented without notice. As a result, we are discontinuing all domestic and international trip operations through August 16 and working directly with affected travelers.

The decision to travel is a personal one. REI is currently waiving any change and cancellation fees for any guest who wishes to cancel or transfer to another trip or date due to travel health or safety concerns related to COVID-19.