Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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UK indies fearful of cost of living rises

In the UK, independent booksellers are concerned that cost of living rises are leading to fewer customers and lower average spend per head, reports the Bookseller.

Some shops are already reporting reduced footfall and average spend per head compared to last year, amid rising inflation and energy prices. The UK’s economic growth slowed in February, expanding by 0.1% compared with 0.8% in January.

Sam Fisher, co-owner of East London’s Burley Fisher Books, said sales are down on last year—especially at events. ‘I am concerned that this is going to continue long-term as people prioritise things they haven’t been able to do in the last couple of years, like eating out and holidays,’ Fisher said.

Sally Pattle, owner of Scotland’s Far From The Madding Crowd, said she has cut back on ordering books she might have previously ‘taken a chance on’, and children’s hardback books are a ‘definite no for now’.

‘Disposable income is just going to disappear for a lot of people,’ Pattle said, adding her concern that customers will be ‘scaling back’ at Christmas, and turning to heavily discounted titles at Amazon and supermarkets.

‘I’ve spoken to other traders here in Linlithgow and we are all worried about what the next few months hold for us,’ said Pattle. ‘We’re not being offered support by anyone at local, Holyrood or Westminster level. It remains to be seen if we were listened to.’

Booksellers Association (BA) MD Meryl Halls said there is ‘no doubt’ that high street retailers are in a challenging position, ‘still recovering from the impact of Covid on foot traffic and subsequent sales, and then further affected by the cost of living crisis which is understandably seeing the public wary to spend money in anticipation of inflation’.

‘We are conscious that booksellers will be concerned about the consequences of these issues. Booksellers are incredibly robust, innovative and resilient, as demonstrated over the past two years, and we will do everything we can to ensure that they are able to bring books to readers in this difficult economic landscape.’


Category: International news