In a sector that has seen a lot of consolidation over the years, Barnes & Noble has held on as the last major national book store chain in the U.S. However, with the retailer experiencing a 4.5% sales downturn in its most recent quarter and posting a net loss of $27.2 million, what was once a bookselling powerhouse may be expanding its offerings of toys and games, including some designed for adults.
Barnes & Noble will be repositioned as a “lifestyle brand,” said CEO Ron Boire in an interview with The New York Times.
With the rise of Amazon in the bookselling space over the past 15 years, as well as significant losses resulting from its Nook e-reader division, Barnes & Noble is searching for ways to increase in-store traffic and drive sales. Toys and games actually saw a 15% growth in sales during the quarter, further indicating that these items would be a critical part of attracting consumers going forward.
“While these are smaller pieces of our overall business, it’s clear we are a destination for these products and we see prospects for further growth,” Boire said in the company’s earnings call.
As part of the “lifestyle branding,” the retailer held an “All American Art Unwind” coloring event at stores nationwide, and also held a national “Mini Maker Faire” that was designed to promote technology literacy in stores. The event included workshops in both coding and 3D printing.
The bookstore is even jumping on the trend of showcasing adult coloring books and art supplies as part of its offering. Adult coloring books are one of the retailer’s largest book categories, according to Boire.
“The macro trend is about physical interaction with things,” Boire told the Times. “I think it’s here for the long haul.”
As Barnes & Noble weathers the holiday season, this December will begin to test whether these rebranding efforts will have a positive effect on the retailer’s sales going into 2016.