Since the pandemic’s grip on sales at bricks-and-mortar stores began to ease in 2022, sales at Barnes & Noble have grown steadily, CEO James Daunt told PW in an interview in early January. In that interview, Daunt said that sales were up in 2023 over 2022, which itself had seen an increase over a weak 2021. Daunt also said that his goal for 2024 was to open 50 new stores—and on June 12 B&N opened its 23rd new outlet this year in Selma, Tex. The store opening, B&N said, saw the highest first-day turnout at any of the new locations the chain has opened this year.

The aggressive store opening schedule and B&N’s upcoming purchase of Tattered Cover are the clearest signals that B&N, a privately-held company that doesn’t release financial information, is performing well. But, a market intelligence firm whose services include store foot tracker analysis, has released a report on B&N’s customer traffic between November 2023 and this May that provides some more evidence that the bookstore chain is on the correct path.

According to the report, between last November and this May, customer store traffic rose every month but January compared to the prior year, with the firm speculating that the January decline was due to a cold snap. With the exception of April, when traffic was up only 0.4%, monthly increases were in the mid single digits, including March, when visits rose 8.7%. (The March/April splits are likely explained by the March Easter in 2024.)

In a very positive sign for B&N, the report found that May store traffic was up 11.1% over May 2023, marking the strongest month since it began tracking traffic in November. The strong May gain is consistent with monthly sales reporting by Circana BookScan that showed unit sales up about 5%, spurred in part by strong Mother’s Day sales and retail promotions. also took a look at a 14-month trend for customer store visits based on visits from April 2023. To no one’s surprise, December was the busiest month for the store, but the size of the gain may open some eyes, with reporting that store traffic was almost 87% higher at B&N than in April. attributed the improved customer performance to a number of widely-reported factors, including Daunt’s decision to give more autonomy to local managers. also took a deep dive into two cities in which B&N has caused a stir: Denver, where the company has agreed to buy legendary independent bookstore Tattered Cover, and Chicago, where the chain is currently is in the midst of opening five outlets.

According to the report, B&N had good reasons to expand in both locations. In both core based statistical areas (CBSAs) in which the cities are located, the chain experienced positive year-over-year foot traffic growth in early 2024. Moreover, B&N locations in both CBSAs also drew customers from areas with higher median household incomes and greater shares of families with children than the chain’s nationwide baseline—two groups that may be particularly likely to frequent bookstores, the report found.

A spokesperson for B&N told PW that they aren’t working with or any other foot traffic company, which a representative from confirmed. The B&N spokesperson added that B&N is having a good year with new store sales performances outperforming expectations.