Bookstore sales were up 12.3% in May over a year ago, rising to $665 million, according to preliminary estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The gain was relatively modest compared to earlier jumps in previous months, and reflects a retail landscape that bounced back in the first half of last year compared to the desolate retail landscape of early 2020, when sales were tanking. Sales in May 2020, for example, were only $259 million, 157% below sales this May. But even as sales show improvement over the last two years, May 2022 bookstore sales were 2.8% below May sales in 2019.

For the first five months of 2022, bookstore sales increased 17.9% over the comparable period in 2021, hitting $3.28 billion, up from $2.78 billion in the prior year. Sales for the entire retail sector were up 8.3% in May and 10.6% in the year to date.