Amazon tax fallout boosts indie Christmas sales

The majority of independent booksellers saw a Christmas sales rise in 2012, with fall-out from the Amazon tax avoidance row one of the reasons cited for the lift.

Of 52 indies responding to The Bookseller's annual Christmas Trading Survey, 25 (48%) reported that sales were up over the festive period in comparison with last year, while 15 (29%) said that sales were down. The majority of sales rises cited were 1%-2%, but some shops saw sales up by as much as 10%. The remaining 12 (23%) put Christmas sales flat on 2011.

The majority of booksellers said shoppers were talking about Amazon's tax problems, with 21 (40%) believing that a backlash against the online retailer had positively affected sales.

Independent booksellers across the country reported that customers deliberately chose to shop with them in response to Amazon's tax position.

Peter Donaldson, of Red Lion Books in Colchester, said: "Lots of customers made a point of saying that they were coming to us because they were really unhappy with Amazon's tax position." Philip Maltman, of Dulwich Books in south London, saw similar behaviour among his customers. He said: "The swing against Amazon has improved things for us."

Rachel Phipps of The Woodstock Bookshop near Oxford found that the issue helped shoppers realise "the need to use us or lose us". This reaction was echoed by Harry Wainwright, of Oldfield Park Bookshop in Bath, who said customers had "drifted back" to his shop after hearing about the negative effect that Amazon had on independent booksellers.

However, Ian Nicholson of Alison's Bookshop in Tewkesbury, did not believe that the company's tax avoidance would change customer behaviour in the long term: "Support has been good this year, the Amazon tax issue is mentioned, but I think we kid ourselves in our trade if we believe consumers will steer away from this e-crocodile because of this issue."

The full results of The Bookseller's Christmas Trading Survey will be published in this Friday's issue (11th January) and simultaneously online.