Printed book sales in September rose by 10% on August, but were down 10% on last year, Nielsen BookScan data reveals. In total, £118.4m was spent on physical books in the four weeks to 1st October, an increase of £11m on August, but a decline of £14m on September 2010.
According to an analysis of BookScan TCM Top 5,000 data for the period, which accounted for 55% of all book sales, hardback sales in September were significantly down on 2010 levels—by 35% in the fiction sector and 30% in non-fiction.
Hurt by the migration to digital, paperback fiction sales through the TCM Top 5,000 were down 15% year-on-year last month, although paperback non-fiction and children's sales out-performed the overall market, with sales down 4% and up 3% respectively.
Meanwhile, after a poor first half of the year, sales within the specialist non-fiction/academic sector have improved, and were up 1.5% for the month.
Although the migration from print to digital can be partly blamed for poor physical book sales year-on-year, booksellers were not the only retail sector suffering a September sales slump. Almost 40% of retailers that contributed to the CBI's recent Distributive Trades Survey reported that sales in the month of September were below last year, while figures from footfall monitors Experian revealed that footfall fell 8.1% year-on-year in the week commencing 26th September—the biggest fall since December 2008. Fashion and footwear retailers in particular suffered badly, with sales falling to their lowest level in more than two and a half years, Drapers magazine reports, as shoppers shunned the shops in favour of enjoying the recent mini heat wave.