Indies First Marks Strong Start to Holiday Season

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For the second year in a row, Indies First on Small Business Saturday was a strong day for independent bookstores, marked by solid sales, increased customer traffic in stores, and a festive national partnership between authors and booksellers.

In more than 420 bookstores nationwide, 1,200-plus authors volunteered as booksellers for a day — handselling their favorite titles, gift wrapping purchases, and demonstrating their commitment to the indie bookstore channel as a key to discovering new writers.

Throughout the day, store events were shared on social media, and, overall, the #indiesfirst hashtag produced more than 56 million impressions.

“Indies First on Small Business Saturday was again a vibrant demonstration of the resurgence of indie bookstores,” said Oren Teicher, the CEO of the American Booksellers Association. “Readers and book buyers know that bricks-and-mortar independent bookstores are the best places to discover their next great read, and last Saturday indie booksellers again showed on a national stage the unique role they play in connecting authors and readers.”

Unit sales of books in independent bookstores rose 4.6 percent over 2013 for the week including Indies First on Small Business Saturday, an increase that outpaced other independent businesses. And while the average consumer spending in dollars was down from the previous year, overall, American Express reported that Small Business Saturday spending with indie businesses and restaurants increased 2.1 percent over 2013. And the sales gains among independent booksellers were in clear contrast to national retail numbers. Total retail spending fell 11 percent for the Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation.

New data show that consumers are seeking out indie retailers in growing numbers. Six in 10 customers say they go out of their way to shop at small businesses, and in a survey this year 62 percent of small business owners said that public awareness of the benefits of choosing locally owned businesses is on the rise.

Read about the many Indies First bookstore celebrations in this week’s BTW article “Bookstores Shine on Second Annual Indies First.”