Bookstore sales fell 28.8% in October compared to 2019, according to preliminary estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Sales were $446 million, down from $627 million in October 2019.

The October decline was nearly identical to the drop reported in September, when bookstore sales fell 27.7% compared to the previous year—suggesting that, for the moment, bookstore sales appeared to have stabilized, albeit at a rate far below normal levels.

Overall retail sales continued to improve in October, rising 7.8% over 2019. In September, total retail sales had increased 7.6%.

For the first 10 months of 2020, bookstore sales fell 31% compared to a year ago, dropping to $4.97 billion, from $7.19 billion, in the comparable period in 2019. Sales for the entire retail market were flat in the January-October span.

This story has been updated with corrected 2019 October bookstore sales.