June bookstores fell 35.3% compared to a year ago, according to preliminary estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. As steep as the June drop was, it was a marked improvement over May, when bookstore sales fell nearly 60%, to $270 million. Bookstore sales in June were $384 million, compared to $504 million last June.
The entire retail sector showed more signs of life in June, eking out a 0.1% increase over June 2019. For the year to date, sales for all of retail—which includes stores that were not forced to close during lockdowns as bookstores were—sales were down 3.2% compared to a year ago.Year-to-date sales for bookstores were $2.74 billion, down 32.6% from the first half of 2019.
The Bureau modified its note about gathering retail data during the pandemic. The note accompanying the June figures stated: "The Census Bureau continues to monitor response and data quality and determined estimates in this release meet publication standards."
The May statement read: "Due to recent events surrounding COVID-19, many businesses are operating on a limited capacity or have ceased operations completely. The Census Bureau has monitored response and data quality and determined estimates in this release meet publication standards."