With Barnes & Noble announcing that it is considering strategic alternatives, including a sale of the company, retailowners have to be wondering if they are in for another round of big-box closures
The chain is the leading brick-and-mortar bookseller in the country—a business that has come under strain because of a decline in discretionary spending, intense competition from Amazon.com and the increasing popularity of e-readers.
Barnes & Noble’s management has kept up with changing market conditions by putting more emphasis on its online division and coming out with its own e-reader, among other initiatives. Industry insiders wonder, however, if Barnes & Noble might have to slim down its base of 1,300 stores as a result of the changing book market.
The consensus is that while the retailer will likely tweak its portfolio, it is unlikely to undertake massive store closings.
“The book business is challenging, but of the [players] out there, Barnes & Noble is probably the best positioned,” says Ivan L. Friedman, president and CEO of RCS Real Estate Advisors, aCity-based retail real estate consulting firm. “I think there could be selective closings for both Barnes & Noble and Borders, but nothing like what happened with Circuit City and Linens ‘n Things.”
There is no question that Barnes & Noble has been affected by the recession. The company reported a 3.1 percent decline in same-store sales at its 720 regular stores for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010, ended May 1.