The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland Limited

Independent Bookshops Report Strong Christmas Book Sales Amidst High Street Challenges

The Booksellers Association (BA) has released the results of its annual Christmas Trading Survey, with respondents continuing to report strong sales overall and a notable improvement in supply chains, but a decline in high street footfall.
The key findings of the BA’s 2023 Christmas Trading Survey included:
  • 50% of respondents reported an increase in sales compared with Christmas 2022, but 30% experienced a decrease in sales
  • Equal numbers of respondents, 35% noted that footfall had risen and declined in their bookshop during the Christmas period
  • 44% reported that overall footfall on the high street was down in 2023, with only 18% observing an increase
  • 49% of bookshops said individual transaction values increased, but 22% also reported a decrease in transaction values
  • Around 60% of respondents reported an increase in turnover for the whole year 2023 vs 2022

The annual survey also asked independent bookshops what their biggest concerns were as they look ahead to 2024; the most common responses were:
  • Cost of living and consumer confidence
  • The UK economy
  • Increasing RRPs and wholesale prices
  • Energy/utility bills
  • Staff costs
Meryl Halls, Managing Director at the Booksellers Association, which represents chain and indie bookshops alike, said: “As we continue to recover from the pandemic and navigate the cost-of-living crisis, we are pleased to see that there continues to be an upwards trend for Christmas book trading, and that supply chains have greatly improved since 2022.
However, while bookshops are generally performing better in comparison to other high street retailers, the current environment of high business costs, the increased cost of living and the precarious state of the UK economy, bookshops still face significant challenges.
In the face of such times, with bookshops expressing tangible concerns around consumer confidence, RRP prices, spiralling costs and bills and the UK economy as a whole, the BA will continue to provide support and advice to navigate the increasingly complex high street landscape.”