Book Retailers in the UK Industry Market Research Report Now Updated by IBISWorld

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Book retailers have faced a tough trading landscape over the past five years with sales contracting due to the increasing competition from external operators such as supermarkets, online sales and e-books. This trend is expected to continue over the five years to 2017-18.

IBISWorld industry market research
Supermarkets and department stores are the culprits in the industry's decline

It has been a tragedy of errors for book retailers over the past five years. With sales expected to contract at a compound annual rate of 7.8% over the period, industry operators have faced a tough trading landscape. According to IBISWorld industry analyst, Andrew Johnson, “their greatest hurdle has been the increasing competition exerted on the industry by external operators such as supermarkets”. Retail demand for bricks-and-mortar book stores has been affected by online book purchasing and the introduction and growing popularity of e-books, which are expected to revolutionise the way consumers enjoy written text. The performance of book retailers has also been affected by fluctuations in the level of real household disposable income and subdued consumer confidence. Industry sales are expected to contract by 3.4% in 2012-13, to £1.29 billion. Book retailers will continue to operate in a highly competitive environment, leading to a loss of market share to external players. Total online expenditure in the United Kingdom expanded rapidly over the last five years, as consumers became increasingly willing to make purchases online, often driven by the search for better deals than they would find in high-street stores.

The specialised book retailing market will continue on its downwards trend over the next five years to 2017-18. Johnson adds, “e-books will continue to grow in importance, supporting sales in the total book market, but putting downward pressure on prices and revenue”. This change will increasingly favour UK book retailers' major competitor, Amazon, which leads the way in e-book sales, negatively affecting all industry operators. The exit of independent book shops from the industry will accelerate, as they are unable to adapt to e-book retailing.

The Book Retailers industry has a high level of market share concentration with the top four players accounting for 71.9% of industry revenue. Major companies include Waterstones and WH Smith.

For more information on the Book Retailers industry, including latest industry trends, statistics, analysis and market share information, purchase the full report from IBISWorld, the nation’s largest publisher of industry research.

IBISWorld industry Report Key Topics

Industry participants are primarily engaged in the retail sale of new printed books of all genres. The industry purchases book titles from publishers or distributors to sell at the retail level. This industry does not include online book retailers, who do not own physical store locations

Industry Performance
Executive Summary
Key External Drivers
Current Performance
Industry Outlook
Industry Life Cycle
Products & Markets
Supply Chain
Products & Services
Major Markets
Globalisation & Trade
Business Locations
Competitive Landscape
Market Share Concentration
Key Success Factors
Cost Structure Benchmarks
Barriers to Entry
Major Companies
Operating Conditions
Capital Intensity
Key Statistics
Industry Data
Annual Change
Key Ratios

About IBISWorld
Recognised as the nation’s most trusted independent source of industry and market research, IBISWorld offers a comprehensive database of unique information and analysis on many UK industries. With an extensive online portfolio, valued for its depth and scope, the company equips clients with the insight necessary to make better business decisions. Headquartered in London, IBISWorld serves a range of business, professional service and government organisations through more than 10 locations worldwide. For more information, visit or call (020) 3008 6568.

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Gavin Smith
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