Bookstore sales fell in 2010, although not as much as many had feared, helped in part by a holiday rally that pushed sales up by 5.3% and 2.3% in November and December, respectively. For 2010, bookstore sales were down 1.4%, to $16.5 billion, the third consecutive year that store sales have fallen after reaching a peak of $17.2 billion in 2007. The 1.4% decline in 2010 was slightly more than the 1.0% drop in bookstore sales in 2009, but a bit less than the 1.7% decline in 2008, when the country was mired in a deep recession for most of the year. The timing of the 2010 rally suggests that sales improved in part due to the introduction of nonbook merchandise such as toys and games and e-reading devices like the Nook.
Of course, bookstores were not the only retailers that suffered from the recession and have found it difficult to bounce back. Data from the Statistical Abstract of the United States shows the impact of the recession on a group of retailers including bookstores, music stores, sporting goods stores, and hobby shops, with the number of employees at those stores dropping 8.6% from a high of 657,500 in December of 2007 to 600,700 in December 2009. Preliminary data shows only a slight rebound in hiring in December 2010. The good news for employees who kept their jobs is that wages rose slightly through the recession and into the recovery. The number of hours per employee, however, trended downward.
Even as the economy slowly recovers, it is unlikely that retailing in the overall segment will return to anywhere near the prerecession highs as the growing importance of digital books and recordings puts downward pressure on sales at bookstores and music stores and the number of people they employ.
Bookstore Sales 2006–2010 (in millions)
|2006||2007||2008||2009||2010||% Chnge 2006–10|
Employees December 2005–2010
|% change 2005–2010||-7.6%|
Initial Unemployment filings, 2005–2010
Average Hourly Earnings of Employees, 2007–2010
Average Weekly Hours 2007–2010