The addition of over 40 former Borders stores last fall helped to lift overall sales at Books-A-Million 10.5% in the first quarter ended April 28, to $113.1 million. Net loss from continuing operations in the period was cut to $1.9 million from $3.4 million. Comparable store sales fell 4.2% in the quarter, but BAM CEO Terry Finley said he was pleased that the comp sales figure showed improvement over previous quarters. In the fourth quarter comps fell 5.7%. The first quarter of 2012 was the second consecutive period in which sales of print books declined less than expected and Finley speculated that the rapid growth in digital book sales could be slowing.
Improved sales were attributed to the “phenomenal success” of the Fifty Shades series, Finley said, that, along with solid children’s sales led by the Hunger Games books and merchandise, helped to stabilize BAM’s core book business. Strong performances were also turned in by toys, games, gifts and electronics. Finley acknowledged in a conference call that sales at its new stores were performing "slightly below" expectations and that BAM will continue to refine the merchandise mix at those outlets. One possibility is adding more media to the mix, which Finley said were selling well at its older stores.
The company closed two stores in the period and finished the quarter with 255 outlets. Finley said the company may open a few stores this summer, but that there are no plans for adding a significant number of new locations. Asked about when the special committee formed to evaluate the bid by the Anderson family to takeover BAM may make a recommendation, Finley said it was still early in the process and that any announcement would come via press release.