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European book sales mostly ‘well below’ pre-Covid levels

European book sales are mostly well below pre-Covid levels despite an uptick since stores reopened, reports the Bookseller.

The Federation of European Publishers (FEP) report, which is described as an ‘interim stock-taking exercise’, shows a plunge in book sales across Europe, including Portugal (80%), Spain (80%), Italy (85%) and Slovenia (90%), when the crisis was at its peak.

Despite a sales pick-up immediately following lockdown, the report states that ‘restrictions in place and people’s caution meant they remained lower than pre-crisis levels’.

In France, for example, sales more than doubled in value when shops re-opened, compared to the previous week, and were 2.7% higher than the same week in 2019. However, sales fell 8% the following week, and were down 11% on the previous year. A market survey showed the annual trend for sales was down by 7% in value; however, a government study estimates the loss for the year is much higher still, at 23% for publishers and 24% for booksellers.

Similarly, in Spain, bookshop sales were up 37.5% on the previous week when stores re-opened, but down 5.2% on the same week in 2019. German sales in the first post-lockdown week were up just 0.5% across all channels, with sales for the year down 8.3% compared to 2019.

‘Despite a few exceptions, the restart has been generally difficult for bookshops and sales outlets, with falling demand from readers and insufficient financial resources identified as the main factors of fragility for the resumption of activity,’ the report states.

‘Should more bookstores end up shutting down for good, the damage will be both amplified and made more permanent. The shift of sales towards online and digital channels, in addition to not compensating in most cases for the loss of physical sales, means that a higher volume of sales stems now from less profitable segments.’

The report also called for targeted government support to ‘help address the fragility of the value chain and to prop up the sector’s resilience’.


Category: International news