Thursday, June 20, 2024

Independent bookstores have been hit hard by high freight rates

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
"Subtly charming problem solver. Extreme tv enthusiast. Web scholar. Evil beer expert. Music nerd. Food junkie."

The pandemic, with its marked impact on parcel-shipping services, has been an unintended consequence of independent Canadian booksellers, according to the latest report from BookNet Canada. For example, about a quarter (23%) of respondents in a survey of more than 250 retailers said that shipping costs had jumped 26% or more.

In fact, the document states that just over half of the companies surveyed (53%), shipping costs increased by at least 11%; A total of 83% of retailers who participated in the survey reported an increase in shipping costs to their addresses.

At the other end of the spectrum, only 6% of booksellers reported a reduction in shipping costs, and none reported such a reduction in excess of 26%.

As BookNet points out, in its report titled The state of bookselling in Canada 2000These shipping costs include shipments to customers, but are also returned to distributors, if applicable.

In times of pandemic, booksellers have largely preferred free pickup from store or overseas branches (38%), before switching to Canada Post (27%), and free local delivery (20%). Private local delivery services are brought in from behind.

Overall, large bookstores spent 7% of their operating expenses on delivery, compared to 3% for small and medium-sized businesses.

If this percentage seems relatively low, it is nonetheless an important part of the costs that these same libraries must charge. “The campaign is slowly killing us. Publishers’ online stores are not helping us…especially because they are driving readers to turn to Amazon,” said one of the booksellers BookNet interviewed for its report.

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“In terms of support, for growth, we will sell more books if the shipping cost is lower. It will also give us the opportunity to expand our group of consumers,” says another.

Among the testimonies received, many bookstore owners are calling on the federal government to continue its support for the environment, subsidies that have helped many companies weather the crisis, the possible disappearance of which is causing concern in the sector, and redirecting these funds to reduce shipping and delivery costs. .

“The true costs of online shopping and shipping will emerge in 2021 and beyond. There was a lot of financial support in 2020, both directly and through publishers, offsetting many of the costs. A bookseller interviewed by BookNet as part of its investigation says:” Profitability will be a real problem.”

Last year, the average profit margin for independent English-Canadian booksellers was 41%. Just under half (45%) of bookstores generated revenues of $900,000 or more; For 27% of respondents, cash flow tends to vary between $150,000 and $449,999.

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