August Bookstore Sales Dropped 30.7%

From Publishers Weekly:

Bookstore sales tumbled 30.7% in August compared to one year ago, according to preliminary estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Sales fell to $754 million compared to $1.09 billion in August 2019.

The steep August drop put an end to a brief rally during which the rate of decline in bookstore sales had been slowing. In July, bookstore sales fell 24.6% compared to July 2019, an improvement over the 35% decline in June compared to August 2019.

. . . .

Bookstore sales through the first eight months of 2020 were down 31.4% from the comparable period in 2019. Sales were just under $4 billion in the most recent period, down from $5.72 billion in the January-August period in 2019. Sales for all of retail fell 1.7%.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

PG did some quick research and, at least in the US, the average profit margin of a bookstore was 2-3% prior to Covid.

PG doesn’t like to see any small business go through difficult financial times, but he expects the financial future of a great many small bookstores is bleak unless the owner has access to assets or cash from sources outside of the bookstore business.

Even smaller banks that cater to local small business borrowers might not be willing to provide much help.

5 thoughts on “August Bookstore Sales Dropped 30.7%”

  1. Even smaller banks that cater to local small business borrowers might not be willing to provide much help.

    Those smaller banks are probably very concerned with the ability of small business owners to service existing debt.

    • Absolutely, E.

      The small banks are under financial stress as well and management is trying its best not to make a decision that will send the bank under or force it into a merger it wasn’t particularly interested in.

  2. And today’s irony of ironies:
    The Strand Bookstore, a landmark of literary New York, is in serious trouble, appealing for customers to help it stave off closure amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    “We’ve survived just about everything for 93 years,” proprietor Nancy Bass-Wyden said in a statement, of the store her grandfather founded in 1927. “The Great Depression, two world wars, big box bookstores, ebooks and online behemoths. We are the last of the 48 bookstores still standing from 4th Avenue’s famous Book Row.

    “Because of the impact of Covid-19, we cannot survive the huge decline in foot traffic, a near-complete loss of tourism and zero in-store events.”

    Bass-Wyden said revenue was down nearly 70% from 2019. Though a government loan and cash reserves saw the store through the first eight months of the pandemic, she said, “we are now at a turning point where our business is unsustainable”.

    Not unexpected.
    Earlier this year, thanks to disclosures necessitated by her marriage to Ron Wyden, a Democratic senator from Oregon, Bass-Wyden was revealed to have spent between $115,000 and $250,000 on purchasing stock in Amazon, the “online behemoth” that has done most to damage independent bookstores.
    Bass-Wyden said she made the purchase to support the Strand.
    “It was necessary for me to diversify my personal portfolio and invest in stocks that are performing,” she said then. “I have to make sure that I have the resources to keep the Strand going. ”

    More at the source.

    • Of course, the story doesn’t stop there. It’s NYC:

      “If you don’t have much sympathy for Bass Wyden, it’s understandable. I don’t either. But New York it as a crossroads. Either we support her, or we stand to lose The Strand. It sounds from all her mishegos that she wouldn’t mind shutting down and spending her days watching tumbleweeds in Oregon. So we’ve got no choice.

      The Strand has a very good online presence, and ordering books from them is as easy as ordering from Amazon. So why not just do it? I’m going to go over there tomorrow and buy some books in person. But just replace Amazon with them on your phone or computer. Saving the Strand is more important than taking it out on Bass Wyden. She has us over a barrel. ”

      “Tumbleweeds in Oregon.”
      They really do live in a world all their own there.
      Their civilization still ends at the Hudson.

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