According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, bookstore chain Barnes & Noble is closing a third of its total stores over the next 10 years. The plan is to close 20 stores a year, bringing the number of 689 current stores to around 450-500 stores nationwide.
The stores plus BN.com recently earned $1.2 billion for the nine-week holiday period, which is almost an 11% drop over the previous year. Sales of the Nook have dropped 12.6% over the last year as well, while digital content sales is up 13.1%.
William Lynch, Chief Executive Officer of the company, says in a release, “NOOK device sales got off to a good start over the Black Friday period, but then fell short of expectations for the balance of holiday. We are examining the root cause of the December shortfall in sales, and will adjust our strategies accordingly going forward.”
However, in a statement to NBC News, spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating denies that the company’s plans are any different than normal. The statement reads:
Barnes & Noble has not adjusted its store closing plan whatsoever. The Wall Street Journal article today implies that our rate of store closures has changed. We have historically closed approximately 15 stores per year for the last 10 years. Of that number some of the stores are unprofitable while others are relocations to better properties. The numbers reported today by the Wall Street Journal are consistent with analysts’ expectations. It should be noted that Barnes & Noble opened two new prototype stores in 2012 and in 2013 plans to test several other prototypes, as well. Barnes & Noble has great real estate in prime locations and the Company’s management is fully committed to the retail concept for the long term.
What do you think, readers? Do you go to Barnes & Noble stores? Do you prefer to have actual books in hand or are digital readers the way to go?