Barnes & Noble Continues Refresh of Stores and Website Amidst Declining Sales

By Jamie Grill-Goodman — September 13, 2016

Online sales were the one bright spot for Barnes & Noble Inc, improving during first quarter 2016 thanks to a decline of 1.6% as compared to the prior year decreased traffic.

Barnes & Noble's total sales declined 6.6% compared to the prior year. Its retail sales decreased 6.1% to $882 million for the quarter on lower comparable store sales and store closures. Comps declined 6% primarily on lower store traffic and book sales drove the majority of the comp decline. 

Last month the bookseller announced the departure of CEO Ronald D. Boire saying in a statement, "The Board of Directors determined that Mr. Boire was not a good fit for the organization and that it was in the best interests of all parties for him to leave the company."  Executive Chairman, Leonard Riggio, who was scheduled to retire on September 14, postponed his retirement until a later date as the company seeks out a new CEO.
 
Riggio noted one of the company's problems is that is was the first superstore of any type in America. "We came before Staples, before Home Depot, before Best Buys, before Michaels, before all of them and it was amazing that we did it with books."

As supercenters came to be and they were located next to Barnes & Noble and were mutually nourishing one another with traffic. Riggio noted the stores experiencing less "demand traffic" is causing a snow ball effect on all of them.

"One of the things we are doing in terms of new store development is we are location testing."

"It’s not just the demographics of the neighborhood, it's almost the demographics of the center itself," he continued. "The one center may be failing while another may be working and we have to be very in-depth of that."

RIS News reported in July that during fiscal 2017 Barnes & Noble will be introducing four new concept stores throughout the U.S., designed to emphasis the retailer's best qualities and create a community epicenter.

The company is also continuing the development of a redesign project on 50 stores to include a more local focus and community feel, by featuring an improved layout and complementary category adjacencies to better sever the community they are each in. It expects to complete this redesign on 10 stores by the holiday season and 50 stores by the end of the fiscal year.

"We expect this effort to make the discovery and browsability of titles easier for customers and improved conversion," said CFO Allen Lindstrom.

On the digital front, the retailer continues to work on a redesign of its website BN.com in time for holiday shopping 2016, having already addressed many of the new site implementation issues it faced and making significant SEO advancements, which has led to improved traffic trends. The refresh of the site will reduce visual noise, raise the most important elements of the page, and simply make it easier for customers to shop virtually.

The company also recentlyrisnews.edgl.com/retail-news/Barnes---Noble-Reimagining-Physical-and-Digital-Shopping106055 launched an enhanced NOOK Press service for self-published authors that offers them the opportunity to sell their books in print, in stores, and online, as well as to be eligible to host and in-store signings. 

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