Chain Sales Rose 9.5% in Second Quarter to $1.6 Billion
Jim Milliot -- 9/11/00
Growth rate in period tops that of first quarter

Helped by the Harry Potter frenzy, total revenues at the country's four largest bookstore chains rose 9.5% in the second quarter ended July 31, 2000, to $1.63 billion. The second-quarter gain bettered the 8.4% increase posted by the chains in this year's first period.

The strongest sales increases were posted by the two largest chains, with Borders recording a 10.7% increase over last year's second quarter and Barnes & Noble a 9.6% gain, compared to first-quarter increases of 9.8% and 7.8%, respectively. Second-quarter sales at Crown Books held even with last year, at an estimated $42 million, compared to a 2.5% decline in the first quarter. Books-A-Million was the only chain among the top four to see sales slow in the second quarter, with revenues increasing 4.2% in the latest period, down from 9.4% in the first quarter. Despite strong sales for all Potter titles, comparable-store sales at BAM were up 1.2% in the quarter, compared to 6.2% in the first quarter. Company chairman Clyde Anderson attributed the weaker results to extremely strong sales last year of Pokémon-related products. Sales at were reported up, although the company did not break out results from the e-commerce unit.

Revenues at Borders include results from both its domestic and international stores, but not from Sales from its international group rose 25%, to $44.8 million, in the second quarter, the fastest growth of Borders's three store segments. During the period, Borders opened a second store in Australia and two new Books etc. outlets in the U.K. At the end of the period, the company operated 12 international Borders stores and 30 Books etc. outlets. Revenues at its domestic superstore operation increased 14% in the quarter, to $462.2 million, and sales at Waldenbooks rose 0.7%, to $187.5 million.

B&N's second-quarter performance was helped by a 6.6% increase in comparable-store sales at its superstores and a 0.9% gain at B. Dalton. Superstore sales were up 12.6%, to $713.5 million. Sales from B&N's Babbage's Etc./Funco subsidiary were $127 million in the quarter, compared to no revenues last year.

Crown's second-quarter sales were given a boost by the Potter titles, and president Charlie Cumello told PW that the sales trend was showing stronger increases in August and early September, which he attributed to a broader selection of books. In mid-August, Crown moved its headquarters from Landover, Md., to newer offices in nearby Largo. Cumello still hopes for Crown to once again become a public company before the end of the year.

For the first six months of the year, total sales from the top four chains rose 8.9%, to $3.21 billion.