Barnes & Noble reported over-all sales increases (due to its acquisition of its college stores subsidiary) of 4% for Q3 2009 (ending October 31), with same store sales down 3.2% for the quarter.  The company’s Web sales rose 9%.  Same store sales declined 7.4% in the same quarter a year ago (see “Borders Sales Drop Worst of All”), meaning that over-all B7N same store sales are down over 10% vs. the same quarter in 2007.


The company lost $24 million in the quarter, vs. a loss of around $18 million a year ago.  Costs of the college stores acquisition accounted for around a third of the loss, or more than the difference between the years.


B&N’s sales declines were far below those of Borders, its largest competitor; its market share is increasing in a down market. 


CEO Steve Riggio largely dismissed any impact of the mass merchant online price war on bestselling hardcovers (see “Online Book Price War”), noting that bookselling was a long tail business and that the very top bestsellers contributed only about 1% to sales. 


The company announced that it “expects that general retail traffic will remain challenged during the holiday selling season,” and lowered its earnings forecasts for the year by around 30%.  It expects that same store sales will decline 1% to 3% in the holiday quarter, for total declines of 2% to 4% for the year.  Traffic declines are the primary reason for the sales drop, with a small decline in average ticket also contributing.