Books-A-Million reported sales for the nine-week period ending January 3 of $127.5 million, down 2.5 percent from a year ago, and a decline of 5.6 percent on a comparable-store basis. Which actually makes them the top performer among the three biggest book chains.
CEO Sandra Cochran says, “Given the challenging retail environment, we were pleased that we could record an improvement in the sales trend we saw during the third quarter. Holiday sales came later than ever this year, reflecting a cautious and price-sensitive consumer. The success of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series was the big story in books this season. Gifts, bargain books and the broader teen category also performed well.”
For the first 11 months of fiscal 2009, sales fell 4.2 percent to $476.8 million, and comparable-store sales declined 7.4 percent.
An informal survey by Bookselling this Week reports major sales declines at key indie stores over the holiday period. Northshire Bookstore owner Chris Morrow cites “a double-digit decline in sales compared to last year,” though he says sales were better than expected after Christmas. And Seattle’s Elliott Bay Book Company–where the area experienced a number of snow and ice storms before the holiday, “saw a 25 percent decline in sales from 2007.”
Vroman’s Bookshop in Pasadena held up somewhat better with a final surge right before Christmas that left them “down about seven percent compared to last year.”