February bookstore sales fell 22.3% compared to 2020, according to preliminary estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The decline is higher than the 16.7% drop bookstore sales experienced in January compared to the first month of 2020. Bad weather and more store lockdowns as Covid-19 cases spread are likely reasons for the higher decline in sales.

In the month, sales were $446 million, down from $573 million in February 2020. For the first two months of 2021, bookstore sales were $1.24 billion, down 18.7% from the comparable period last year. For the entire retail sector, February sales rose 2.9% and sales were up 5.3% for the first two months of 2021 over 2020.

The industry will get a better sense of whether bookstore sales are improving in March. Last year, sales began declining in March as the pandemic set in, tumbling 33.4% compared to March 2019.