Retail Sales at Bookstores Down in December

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    Retail sales at U.S. bookstores were down by 8.2 percent in December 2017 compared to December 2016, according to preliminary figures recently released by the Bureau of the Census. Estimates reflect sales of all types of participating bookstores, including trade, college, religious, chain stores (including superstores), and others.

    The independent bookstore channel ended the year with a 2.6 percent increase over 2016. As of February 6, the year-to-date sales for independent bookstores, as reported to the weekly Indie Bestseller Lists, were up more than 4 percent over 2017.

    The Census Bureau reported that December 2017 bookstore sales are estimated at $1,182 million, compared to sales of $1,288 million for the same period the previous year. Total retail and food service sales in December 2017 are estimated at $561.9 billion, compared to $542 billion in December 2016, an increase of 3.7 percent.

    Period

    2016 Final
    (Millions of Dollars)

    2017
    (Millions of Dollars)

    % Change
    2017 over 2016

    January

    1,451

    1,424

    -1.9

    February

    710

    690 

    -2.8

    March

    708

    709

    0.1

    April

    701

    733

    4.6

    May

    774

    788

    1.8

    June

    710

    707

    -0.4

    July

    686

    672

    -2.0

    August

    1,564

    1,415

    -9.5

    September

    1,083

    1,016

    -6.1

    October

    717

    690 

    -3.8

    November

    744

    703

    -5.5

    December

    1,288

    1,182 (p)

    -8.2

    YTD

    11,136

    10,729 (p)

    -3.7

    (p) Preliminary figure

    Note: Estimates reflect sales of all types of participating bookstores, including trade, college, religious, chain stores (including superstores), and others. A bookstore is defined as any retail establishment with sales comprised of more than 50 percent new books and periodicals, and estimates include sales of all products in these stores.