Total sales at Barnes Noble dropped 6.6% in the quarter ended July 29, compared to the same period a year ago. Sales in the quarter, the first of fiscal 2018, were $853.3 million, down from $913.9 million in the quarter ended July 30, 2016.
Despite the decline, BN cut its net loss to $10.8 million, down from $14.4 million a year ago. BN CEO Demos Parneros attributed the lower loss to continued reductions in expenses. The biggest improvement on the bottom line came in BN’s Nook division, where the operating loss was cut to $2.7 million from $14.0 million in last year’s first quarter. Sales in the Nook unit, however, fell to $29.5 million, from $41.0 million a year ago.
Sales in BN’s core retail stores declined 5.9% in the quarter, to $830 million. Comparable store sales decreased 4.9% as, BN said, “declines in non-book categories outpaced improved book trends during the quarter.” Specifically, BN said book sales fell 2.8% in the quarter, while non-book categories–which had been a good performer–fell by about 8%. Sales through BN.com also fell in the quarter. The division’s operating loss increased to $12.5 million from $7.4 million in last year’s first quarter.
Parneros said the company expects its sales performance to improve in the “back-half” of the year, noting that in the second quarter BN is facing difficult comparisons with 2016 and the release of the hugely popular Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Still, BN expects EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) of about $180 million for fiscal 2018. Comp store sales are forecast to decline in the lower single digits.
This story has been updated to include remarks from BN’s conference call with analysts.