In the seventh month of data reflecting public health measures taken to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, including the closure of many bookstores for a time and limited access since then, in September sales at bookstores dropped 27.7%, to $609 million, compared to September 2019, according to preliminary Census Bureau estimates.
April and May had the largest drops in sales this year, down 65.3% and 59.9%, respectively, reflecting the first wave of the pandemic. Since then, bookstore sales have been down in a range between 24.7% and 35.4%. During the first nine months of the year, bookstore sales fell 30.1%, to $4.5 billion.
Total retail sales in September rose 7.6%, to $546.7 billion. During the first nine months of the year, total retail sales fell 0.7%, to $4.5 trillion.
Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing new books." The Bureau also added this unusual caution: "Due to recent events surrounding COVID-19, many businesses are operating on a limited capacity or have ceased operations completely. The Census Bureau has monitored response and data quality and determined estimates in this release meet publication standards."