Unlike the Petersfield Bookshop in Hampshire which went one whole day in January without selling a single book, but was inundated with orders after author Neil Gaiman retweeted a desperate comment by one of the bookshop’s employees to his more than two million twitter followers, one independent Warwickshire bookshop has enjoyed its most successful year ever thanks to many new customers choosing to shop there.
Christmas was especially successful for the shop, with a 20 per cent increase in sales on 2018 and 400 people visiting the shop on December 23rd – a record for a day’s trading.
The success of Kenilworth Books goes against the finding in a report from the British Retail Consortium that 2019 was the worst year for retail in 25 years.
Judy Brook, Kenilworth Books’ owner, put the success down to the hard work and enthusiasm of her team and their many regular customers, as well as a noticeable increase in new customers re-discovering the pleasure of shopping on their local high street.
She said: “We’ve had a really extraordinary year at Kenilworth Books. On top of the really phenomenal sales in the shop, over the last year we’ve organised events on a larger scale than ever before; nearly 400 people joined us for the publication event of Chocolat author, Joanne Harris’ latest book, The Strawberry Thief.
“What’s been particularly pleasing is the number of new customers I’ve seen in the shop over the past year – we love our regulars but it’s lovely to see new faces coming in and buying books.
“We’re hoping this trend carries on into 2020, and with authors such as Dan Snow and Sophie Hannah appearing at events this year, we’re confident of further success.
“This is an amazing time to be running a bookshop – it is a truly great age of writing and illustration both for adults and for kids. I just hope that Kenilworth enjoys having its small but fierce little bookshop as much as we enjoy being part of everything that Kenilworth is.”
Kenilworth Books has been located in Talisman Shopping Centre since 1970 after it moved from its original site on Priory Road.
Judy took over the business in 2014, and has overseen year-on-year increases in sales during that time.
Hugo Hawkings, chief executive of Discovery Properties – the developers of Talisman Shopping Centre – praised the shop for doing so well considering the difficult period the retail industry is facing at the moment.
He said: “When you consider Kenilworth Books has been trading for more than 50 years – with the bulk of those years in Talisman Shopping Centre – it’s so impressive that 2019 was such a successful year for them.
“Bookshops like Kenilworth Books face stern competition from online retailers, so it is especially difficult in this day and age to attract customers.
“But their welcoming attitude, support of local authors and willingness to organise exciting events has allowed them to thrive.
“We wish Judy and her team the very best of success in 2020 – I’m sure it will be another incredible year for Kenilworth Books.”