Bookstore sales rose 12.5% in March over a year ago, according to preliminary estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Sales were $577 million, up from $513 million in March 2021.

The 12.5% increase was one of the smallest in recent months and reflects the improving retail environment that took place early last year over 2020, when sales were tanking. Sales in March 2020, for example, were only $388 million, 49% below sales this March. However, March 2022 sales were 2.5% below March bookstore sales in 2019.

For the first quarter of 2022, bookstore sales increased 16% over the first quarter of 2021, rising to $1.99 billion, from $1.71 billion. Compared to the first quarter of 2019, sales declined 8.5%.

For the entire retail segment, March sales increased 8.5%, and first quarter sales rose 12.3%. The Census Bureau reported that retail sales were revised in April to reflect the results of the 2020 Annual Retail Trade Survey and the Service Annual Survey.