After a number of months of sales gains, revenue at that nation's bookstores fell 1.2% in August, compared to a year ago, according to preliminary estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sales in the month were $1.32 billion down, from $6.72 billion in August 2017. August is the beginning of the back-to-school period for college students, and the small decline in the month likely reflect the continued softness in that market.

For the first eight months of 2018, bookstore sales were down 0.6%, to $6.68 billion.

For the entire retail segment, sales in August were up 1.6% over August 2017 and sales in the first eight months of 2018 were ahead 5.7% over the comparable period in 2017.