Barnes & Noble, the nation’s largest bookselling chain, announced today that its sales for November and December were down 5.2% over the same period in 2007.  Comparable store sales were down 7.7% in line with the company’s projections, but comparable sales during the last two calendar weeks of 2008 were actually up over 2007 indicating something of a recovery at the end of poor holiday season. 


While Barnes & Noble’s holiday sales were nothing to write home up about, they were considerably better than those of its chief competitor, Borders, which saw its holiday sales drop 11.7% and same store sales for the Border Superstores decline 14.4% (see “Borders Installs New Management Team”).  Investors evidently founded something to like in Barnes & Noble’s report—B&N stock gained 12.51% in the day following the company’s announcement of its holiday sales.


The most negative note in B& N’s holiday sales report was the news that holiday sales for the company’s online operations declined 11% versus 2007 during a season in which online competitor Amazon is expected to report robust holiday sales. Barnes & Noble reports that at year’s end, it had $275 million in cash on hand and no borrowings under its $850 million revolving credit facility.