September 8, 2016 / 12:46 PM / a year ago

U.S. elections weigh on Barnes & Noble same-store sales forecast

(Reuters) - U.S. bookstore chain operator Barnes & Noble Inc (BKS.N) said it now expected full-year comparable sales to fall as Americans stay indoors to follow the U.S. elections coverage.

Shares of the company, which had earlier expected same-store sales to stay flat or rise by up to 1 percent, fell as much as 8 percent on Thursday.

Barnes & Noble forecast a low single digit percentage decline in its comparable store sales for fiscal year 2017.

“The current trend can be traced precisely to the current election cycle, which is unprecedented in terms of the fear, anger and frustration being experienced by the public,” Founder and Executive Chairman Leonard Riggio said on a conference call.

People are “glued to their TVs and at their desktops,” Riggio said.

Sales at Barnes & Noble’s brick-and-mortar stores have been sliding due to stiff competition from Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) as shoppers increasingly shift to the internet for cheaper offerings and convenience.

A customer purchases a copy of Harper Lee's book "Go Set a Watchman" at a Barnes & Noble store in New York, July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

“We did shoot ourselves in the foot somewhat by making unprecedented inventory reductions, which were ill-advised, by cutting expenses in the worst areas, namely retail floor personnel,” Riggio said.

Last month, Barnes & Noble fired Chief Executive Ronald Boire, who had the top job for less than a year, saying he was not a “good fit” for the company. Riggio, 75, assumed Boire’s responsibilities after his ouster.

    Riggio said on Thursday he would not “rush head-long” to appoint a CEO and would instead look for someone “best suited for the nuances of specialty store retailing” and “who can adapt to the unique nature of book selling.”

    Barnes & Noble’s total sales slumped 6.6 percent to $913.9 million in the first quarter ended July 30. Comparable store sales slipped 6 percent.

    Net loss, however, narrowed to $14.4 million, or 20 cents per share, from $34.9 million, or 68 cents per share, a year earlier, as costs declined.

    The company’s shares were down 4 percent at $11.84 in late morning trading. Up to Wednesday’s close, the stock had risen more than 40 percent this year.

    Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Kirti Pandey

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