Bookstore sales rose 9.8% in June, to $1.18 billion, according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The June increase was easily the largest monthly gain this year, but it was not as dramatic as had been expected, given the millions of copies of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that were sold in the month.
The solid but unspectacular gain likely reflects the deep discounting of Phoenix at many booksellers as well as the large number of copies sold through non-bookstores. The 9.8% increase, to $7.29 billion, was large enough to bring bookstore sales in the first half of 2003 to within $10 million of sales in the same period last year. Sales for the entire retail sector were up 4.7% for the first half of the year.