E-commerce and store sales fell yet again for multichannel bookseller Barnes & Noble Booksellers Inc., as the merchant says it suffered from lower online and offline traffic, plus a “challenging retail environment” in its first fiscal quarter.
Barnes & Noble, No. 54 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, reported today that its online sales decreased by $1.0 million, or 1.6% year over year. The merchant did not disclose a dollar figure for e-commerce, but these numbers suggest Barnes & Noble transacted roughly $61.5 million online in the first quarter, compared with $62.5 million in the same time last year.
Barnes & Noble says its e-commerce business continues to struggle amid a website redesign unveiled more than a year ago. “The company launched a new e-commerce platform in June 2015 and expected certain challenges that generally accompany any new site launch,” the e-retailer writes in a filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission. “However, the challenges were greater than anticipated and reduced website traffic, as well as conversion. The company has been and continues to implement website fixes to increase traffic and conversion on the site, as well as improve the overall user experience.”
According to web traffic measurement firm SimilarWeb Ltd., BN.com drew 655,800 monthly visits in July of this year, a 22.7% decline compared with 848,000 in July 2015.
The report of a tough quarter comes less than a month after Barnes & Noble fired CEO Ron Boire, who had been on the job less than a year. The merchant gave no explanation for the firing.
When an analyst asked Barnes & Noble executives on a conference call this morning about Amazon.com Inc.’s plans to open physical books stores and how those might impact business, executives weren’t able to give a clear answer.
“Well it’s pretty impossible for me, or for anyone for that matter, to speculate on what Amazon might do,” chairman Leonard Riggio told analysts. “Their economics are entirely different than ours, their strategic plans are unknown to us, and clearly different than ours. I don’t know where they go, how fast or far they do. We will have to play it by ear; we are certainly looking at what they do very closely. We obviously hope to have at some point a response to what they do, but I just have no idea, are they going to open up a chain of bookstores? Will they open up a chain of office supply stores? A chain of sporting goods stores? Will they build their own malls? I mean, who knows what they might do. So I can’t really speculate on that. We will have to see. You will see it at the same time we do.”
During the quarter, Barnes & Noble closed two stores and opened none. Amazon is No. 1 in the Top 500.
For the period ended July 30, Barnes & Noble reported:
- Total sales of $913.9 million, a 6.6% decline compared with $978.6 million in the first fiscal quarter of the prior year.
- Retail sales, which include Barnes & Noble stores and BN.com, declined 6.1% to $881.7 million from $939.0 million.
- Comparable-store sales fell 6.0%, which the merchant says is a bigger drop than anticipated.
- Sales in its Nook business, which includes revenue from the sale of digital content, e-book readers and accessories, declined to $41.0 million, or 24.5%, from $54.3 million.
- A net loss of $14.4 million versus a net loss of $34.9 million.