March bookstore sales rose 3.5%, to $734 million, compared to March 2017, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. This marked the second straight month with a gain in bookstore sales, after a half year of declines.
For the year to date, bookstore sales were $2.74 billion, down 2.8% compared to the first three months of 2017. The cumulative loss for 2018 so far is attributable to January results, when bookstore sales fell 8.6%.
Total retail sales in March rose 5.6%, to $511.9 billion. For the year to date, total retail sales have risen 5.4%, to $1,394.8 billion.
Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing new books."