Working against a number of negative trends caused by the pandemic, Barnes & Noble Education reported that sales for the second quarter ended October 31, 2020, fell 22.9% compared to a year ago, and net income plunged 79.1%. Revenue in the quarter was $595.5 million, down from $772.2 million, and net earnings dropped to $7.5 million in the most recent quarter, down from $35.9 million.
Sales in B&NE’s biggest division, retail, fell 22.3% in the quarter, to $576.5 million. Comparable store sales declined 28.1%, somewhat offset by the addition of new stores. B&NE attributed the decline to fewer students on campus and the restriction of most campus activities, including fall sports. As a result, textbook sales fell, and sales of general merchandise took a big hit.
Sales in the company’s digital student solutions unit rose 14%, to $5.9 million, due to an increased in B&NE’s bartleby service, which added 120,000 subscribers. Sales in its wholesale group fell 9.5%, to $36.4 million, for the quarter.
B&NE is not looking for a quick turnaround even as it continues to see faster growth in its digital business as students and faculty adapt to a changing learning environment. "We expect the impacts of Covid-19 to extend into the new year, and as such, we are continuing to manage expenses and liquidity prudently," CEO Michael Huseby said in a statement. "Our current liquidity position remains strong despite the challenging climate."