Harry Potter play takes magic out of Barnes & Noble's comparable book sales

Francesca Washtell
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The play was published as a book and became another bestseller for JK Rowling (Source: Getty)

American book store giant Barnes & Noble yesterday said around half of its decline in comparable store sales was due to the 2016 spike in the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Total sales for the second quarter ended 28 October were $79.1m (£59m), down 7.9 per cent on the year before.

Comparable sales at the US' biggest books retailer fell 6.3 per cent, with “approximately half of this decline” attributable to the release last year of JK Rowling’s follow-up play to the boy wizard book franchise.

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“Book sales continued to strengthen, and we saw improved traffic and conversion trends. As a result of the improving trends, we will continue to place a greater emphasis on books, while further narrowing our non-book assortment,” said chief executive Demos Parneros.

The second quarter net loss was $30.1m, compared to a loss of $20.4m the year before. Its operating loss was $52.2m for the quarter.

For the fiscal 2018 year, Barnes & Noble expects comparable sales to decline in the low single digits and full year consolidated earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to be approximately $180m.

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