News | January 16, 2023

Independent Bookshops Report Strong Christmas Book Sales


Nearly three-quarters of respondents reported an increase in turnover for the whole year 2022 vs 2021

The Booksellers Association (BA) has released the results of its annual Christmas Trading Survey, with respondents reporting strong sales overall, but a decline in high street footfall, and supply chain issues.
UK sales of National Book Tokens gift cards in the run up to Christmas 2022 also grew by over 8% year on year, driven by strong sales growth in key high street locations. Sales of gift cards through independent bookshops reached a new record level and now trade well ahead of pre-covid levels.
The key findings of the BA’s 2022 Christmas Trading Survey included:

  • Over 50% of respondents reported an increase in sales compared with Christmas 2021
  • While 40% of respondents noted that footfall was up in their bookshop during the Christmas period, the same proportion reported that overall footfall on the high street was down on 2022
  • 40% of bookshops said individual transaction values increased, but almost 25% also reported a decrease in transaction values
  • Almost 50% of respondents highlighted that supply chain issues were worse that 2021
  • 73% of respondents reported an increase in turnover for the whole year 2022 vs 2021  

The annual survey also asked independent bookshops what their biggest concerns were as they look ahead to 2023; the most common responses were:

  • Cost of Living and Consumer Confidence
  • Energy/utility bills
  • The UK economy
  • Increasing RRPs and wholesale prices
  • Staff costs
  • Supply chain issues  

Meryl Halls, Managing Director at the Booksellers Association, which represents chain and indie bookshops alike, said: “Having come through the pandemic crisis with a growing community of booksellers on our high streets, it’s heartening to see that Christmas trading held steady, and that consumer behaviour followed largely the pattern suggested in our pre-Christmas research on consumers’ attitudes to book buying – with a continued commitment to buying books from high street bookshops.

"These results show us that books are resilient so far in this economic downturn, and that bookshops continue to work fiendishly hard to get great books to readers.  While there is a sizeable minority of bookshops who are not reporting year-on-year growth, we should take heart from our members’ holding steady last year.  2023 will bring new challenges, but also new bookshops, and the BA continues to offer advice and support to all booksellers to help them through.”
Alex de Berry, Managing Director at National Book Tokens, said: “We are very pleased not just by the level of our growth this Christmas, but because it was based on very strong sales through specialist bookshops, our heartland. And, despite the cold snap and travel challenges, consumers proved again their preference for shopping in bookshops and locally.”