Amidst Growing Concerns, Barnes And Noble Increased Sales This Holiday Season

Barnes and Noble reported its second straight year of holiday sales increases yesterday. For the nine-week holiday period ending on January 2, 2016, Barnes and Noble saw a 1.6 percent increase in comparable store sales.

CEO of Barnes and Noble, Ron Boire, had nothing but praise for his company and workers. “We are pleased with the performance of our bookstores during the holiday period, with core comparable store sales increasing 1.6 percent on top of a 1.7 percent increase a year ago,” said Ron.

“We were also encouraged by the improved performance of BN.com during December, as the site remained stable and traffic improved through the holiday period. As we look ahead, we see further opportunities to improve the experience and increase conversion on BN.com.”

Digital Book World reports that based on the holiday sales results, the Company expects fiscal 2016 core comparable store sales to increase 1 percent.

The news comes in direct contrast to the ever-growing doubts of Barnes and Noble in the marketplace. With Amazon slowly eating at their market share, Barnes and Noble has tried to break into the e-book marketplace via The Nook with limited success.

PYMNTS had this to say about how the popular retailer has turned things around.

“Barnes & Noble spent the back half of 2015 on the offensive with an assist from Leonard Riggio, the CEO who grew Barnes & Noble from a small New York-based chain into one of the driving forces in book sales in the U.S. and around the world.”

They go on to elaborate on how coffee shops, interactive kids reading, and other interactive stations have helped going to Barnes and Noble be an experience instead of a mindless shopping trip.

This raises the bigger question of whether brick and mortar stores are here to stay.

“People come out to stores because we have consistently provided the best possible experience for our customers and their families,” a spokesperson recently said. “And the results we are seeing indicate that this is what is drawing our customers in.”

“Amazon is great if you know what you want to buy,” said one B&N investor.

“Their biggest problem obviously is that their stores are very big,” he continued. “Their average size is about 26,000 square feet. So, how do you have a store that offers tremendous choices of books yet isn’t too large?”

The other problem with Barnes and Noble is how poor their Nook sales are, which saw a 25 percent decline over the holidays.

Despite the growing concerns, Barnes and Noble isn’t fazed, but they’re not exactly promising rapid growth either. In fact, they believe that comparable-stores sales growth will increase by just one percent in 2016.

Jonathan Berr from CBS Money Watch seems to think that book signings have increased sales for Barnes and Noble. He writes, “Barnes & Noble plans to close 10 stores in fiscal 2016, three less than it had originally forecast as promotions such as selling books signed by authors have boosted traffic to its stores. Tinker, who rates the stock as a “buy,” argues that the chain’s forecast is conservative and that it might shutter only seven locations.”

It still remains to be seen just how many “experiences” Barnes and Noble can keep creating to retain customers. The war between Brick and Mortar stores and online retailers continues to wage on, and whether Barnes and Noble can continue to grow with Amazon in the way is a question that will be answered in the coming months and years.

[Photo by Fernando Leon/Getty Images]

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