Unpredictable summer positive for book sales

Unpredictable summer positive for book sales

Retailers say the summer’s mixed weather is giving book sales a lift, with Nielsen BookScan data showing figures in growth for the fourth consecutive week.

Sunshine interspersed with rain has brought book sales boosts for supermarkets such as Waitrose and high-street outlets such as W H Smith. Waterstones spokesperson Jon Howells confirmed: “For retail as a whole, extreme weather isn’t great. Heavy rain puts people off going out and glorious sunshine makes people want to make the most of it in their gardens and in parks. So for a retailer, something in the middle is probably best.”

Waitrose book buyer Freya Wright said the supermarket had increased its fiction sales by 80% in the past week. She said: “In part (this is) due to press coverage of the Fifty Shades trilogy, however weather undoubtedly has a good impact on our book sales.”

An analysis of Nielsen BookScan data showed that print book sales have now been in growth year on year for four consecutive weeks for the first time in almost two years. In total, £115.9m has been spent on physical books in the past four weeks—up 9.5% (£10m) year on year. The figure is strongly supported by sales of E L James’ books (4,486,000), which have accounted for a quarter of all book sales in volume terms over the four-week period (17,727,000). But retailers are reporting the rain is also having an effect, with sales of children’s books also up at stores like W H Smith.

Retail analyst Paul Smiddy said: “If people are out on the high street then, in this weather, they will be making their way to the sort of shop where they can spend some time—and somewhere like a bookshop is a pleasant environment to spend time. Children’s books will be up because we are just approaching school summer holidays, and parents will be wanting to entertain their children.”