Barnes & Noble December Sales Weak


Bookstore chain Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE: BKS) reported this morning that nine-week same-store sales fell 8.2% compared with the same period in 2011. B&N reported sales for the nine-week holiday period beginning on November 1st. Total sales fell 10.9%.

Comparable store sales excluding sales of the company's Nook devices fell 3.1% compared with last year. The company attributed the decline to lower traffic in its bookstores.

The really bad news, though, is Nook sales. B&N has put a lot of eggs in its Nook basket, but sales suffered both from lower volume and lower average selling prices. For the nine-week holiday period Nook sales totaled $311 million, down 12.6% compared with the 2011 holiday shopping period. The company's CEO said:

We are examining the root cause of the December shortfall in [Nook] sales, and will adjust our strategies accordingly going forward.

This examination shouldn't take too long. B&N introduced two new Nook tablets in October and the CEO said at the time that demand for the new devices were at the highest level the company had ever seen. Competition from other tablet makers like Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT), Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), and Samsung Electronics, among a host of others, was simply too much for Nook.

B&N also noted in October that digital content sales would help the company meet overall sales goals even though the 9-inch Nook was priced lower than Amazon's comparable Kindle Fire. Digital content sales for the holiday season did rise 13%, but that was not enough to overcome the low average selling prices and the low volumes for Nook devices.

The company says that Nook Media sales for fiscal 2013 - which ends in April - will total $3 billion, an estimate the company first made in October.

Shares fell initially on today's report, but have since moved higher, up 2.3% at $14.85 in a 52-week range of $9.35 to $26.00.

Paul Ausick

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Consumer Goods, Retail Tagged: AAPL, AMZN, BKS, GOOG, MSFT

Originally published