A late year rally was not enough to keep bookstore sales from falling again in 2012, but the 0.5% decline was the smallest in years. According to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, bookstore sales for 2012 were $15.21 billion, down from $15.28 billion in 2011. For December, bookstore sales increased 2,9% over December 2011, hitting $1.69 billion. Stores that generate at least 50% of their revenue from books are included in the government figures and the Census includes all sales from from those stores, not just books.

For the entire retail sector, sales for the year rose 5%m with December sales up 2.6%.