The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland Limited

Independent bookshops grow for second year

Number of independent bookshops stabilises for second year, alongside strong Christmas performance for bookshops.

After over 20 years of decline, the number of independent bookshops in BA membership in the UK and Ireland has grown for the second year in a row, the Booksellers Association (BA) has announced today.

The Booksellers Association (which represents independent, chain and non-traditional booksellers across the UK and Ireland) released the figures as part of its annual membership survey, which revealed that the number of independent bookshops in BA membership in 2018 grew to 883 shops, up from 868 in 2017.

New independent bookshops which opened in 2018 include:
- Books@One, County Cork
- BrOOK’S Pinner, Middlesex
- Category is Books, Glasgow
- Eaves and Lord Books, Powys
- Lost in Books, Cornwall
- Max Minerva’s Marvellous Books, Bristol
- Storysmith, Bristol
- The Bookmark Stockbridge, Hampshire
- The Snug Bookshop and Café, Somerset
- The Stripey Badger Bookshop, North Yorkshire
- Top Hat and Tales, Kent
- Vinyl Fiction, Manchester

The BA also conducted a Christmas Trading Survey, which reinforced anecdotal feedback of strong bookshop performances pre- and post-Christmas. Highlights of the survey include
- 73% of booksellers reported that their Christmas 2018 sales were up on 2017 
63.5% of booksellers reported that their Christmas 2018 footfall was up on 2017 

Meryl Halls, Managing Director at the Booksellers Association, said: “It is extremely encouraging to see independent bookshops succeeding in 2018, demonstrating the creativity and entrepreneurship of booksellers in the face of difficult challenges.  We are delighted for – and proud of – our incredibly hard-working booksellers.  We do, though, also need to consider these figures in a wider context. 

Retailers generally are facing an increasingly challenging landscape across the UK and Ireland, and we all need the retail landscape to be strong.

“Bookshops (especially our larger members) continue to experience unequal business rates, and struggle alongside wider retail with unfair competition from online retailers, as well as post-Brexit uncertainty. In light of this, we ask the Government to take the steps needed to protect the future of bookshops and their high streets, considering the concerns of retailers and booksellers so they can both flourish.”