Total sales at Borders Group continued to sink in the third quarter, though the chain did better on the bottom-line. Revenue fell 12.7% in the quarter ended October 31, to $595.5 million, while the loss form continuing operations was cut to $38.5 million from $172.2 million in the third quarter of 2008. Comparable store sales were down across the board, falling 12.1% at the company’s superstores and 7.2% at the Waldenbooks Specialty Retail group. Excluding multimedia sales, comp sales at the superstores were down 8.5%. During the quarter, Borders said it focused on getting stores ready for the holidays, a policy that included investing in store payroll, increasing its book purchases by $16.8 million over the comparable period last year and slashing its multimedia inventory.
Chairman Ron Marshall called results in the quarter "difficult and disappointing" which he attributed to higher costs than expected in preparing the stores for the holidays as well as lower than expected sales from promotional programs. Average ticket transaction was down in the period at both the superstores and Walden. Still, Marshall said that with the exception of some pockets on the West Coast he is pleased with the conditions of the stores at the beginning of the holiday season. The retailer's in-stock position is "much better" than a year ago, Marshall said and inventories in the core book group will be up between 4% to 7%.
Revenue at the superstores fell 12.1% in the quarter, to $492.4 million and fell a total of 20.3% at the Walden group, to $72.9 million. Earlier this month, Borders announced that it plans to close approximately 200 Walden units by the end of January. International sales, mainly Paperchase, were flat at $30 million.
Total sales for the first nine months of the year fell to $1.85 billion from $2.16 billion and the loss from continuing operations was reduced to $170.1 million from $213.6 million.