Tough economic times combined with increased competition from online retailers have put a real strain on brick and mortar stores. The decrease in foot traffic has lead Mitchel Klipper, CEO of Barnes & Noble, to announce the nation’s largest bookstore intends to shutter more of its doors in the coming years.
Presently the retailer operates 689 full-sized stores, as well as 674 college bookshops, but it intends to close around 20 of the main storefronts in each of the next ten years. Klipper expects to have between 450 and 500 retail locations still open ten years from now.
The announcement, which came in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, stressed that "the company's management is fully committed to the retail concept for the long term." However, the company does not have all of its hopes pinned squarely on face-to-face book sales. While the popularity of e-commerce through websites such as Amazon cuts into the profits of most retailers—the nation’s other major bookstore, Borders, was even driven into bankruptcy and forced to close in 2011—Barnes & Noble has been hit particularly hard by the success of Amazon’s line of Kindle e-readers. B&N hopes to reclaim some of its lost ground by pushing its own e-reader, the Nook, and growing its e-book sales.
Despite the grim tone taken by store closings, Barnes & Noble spokeswoman Marry Ellen Keating says that Klipper’s comments do not mark a change in company plans. “We have historically closed approximately 15 stores per year for the past 10 years;” many have closed for being unprofitable, while others have moved to other locations in hopes of increasing sales.
The retailer is also experimenting with several “prototypes stores” in New York City and elsewhere, in hopes that a change of format could draw more traffic into the stores.