Indigo Books and Music, Canada's dominant bookstore chain, closed all of its 199 retail locations on March 18 with the hope it would re-open on March 27. Instead, the company laid off 5,200 of 7,000 total employees. Indigo is maintaining online sales and is offering customers free shipping..
Laid off employees were paid until the 27. Indigo spokesperson Kate Gregory said that the company anticipated it will "re-embrace as many [employees] as possible when this period of store closure is over."
On March 20, Indigo CEO Heather Reisman told Bloomberg Canada she anticipated that the stores may be closed for as long as 10 weeks. "Our priority is in keeping our employees and, by extension, our customers safe," she said. "Now we are looking at the next phase which is how to insure the financial well being of our employees and we are working through several options. We are cognizant of the fact that who always gets hurts most at these times are the people who are at the lower end of income. So having to balance that and understanding how to handle it is really important to us."
She called the coronavirus, "the most seismic event of our lifetimes" and she encouraged all Canadians who are making decisions to shop online to choose "true Canadian companies" and not "push the button of that big global American company to fulfill their needs."