Bookstore sales fell 6.4% in February compared to a year ago, dropping to $626 million from $669 million in February 2018, according to preliminary estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. February was the second month in a row bookstore sales fell in 2019 compared to 2018. In January, sales fell 9.6%.

Among the reasons for the 2019 decline, last year's strong interest in political books helped to drive store gains, but no must-have book has emerged in 2019. As a result, sales for the first two months of 2019 were down 8.9% compared to the same period in 2018, falling to $1.73 billion from $1.90 billion in 2018.

For the entire retail sector, sales rose 2.0% in February, and were up 2.2% in the first two months of 2019.