Online sales jumped 127% at Indigo Books & Music in the fiscal year ended April 3, 2021, over fiscal 2020, partially offsetting a 34% drop in sales through its physical stores, the Canadian bookstore chain reported. As a result, total revenue fell 5.5% in the year, to C$904.7 million, from C$957.7 million a year ago. (Fiscal 2021 had 53 weeks.)

Online sales rose to C$370 million in fiscal 2021, up from C$163 million a year ago. As online sales soared last year, 1 million customers used for the first time in fiscal 2021, the company said.

CEO Heather Reisman attributed the drop in retail revenue, from C$778 million to C$512 million last year, to “draconian government-mandated store closures in our largest province, Ontario, and capacity constraints across the country that meaningfully disrupted our business, including during the all-important holiday season.” The decline in sales was the main reason the retailer reported a higher EBITDA loss in fiscal 2021 (C$28.3 million) compared to fiscal 2020 (C$7.3 million).

During the year, Indigo closed 20 of its small stores, bringing the number down to 89 outlets. The number of superstores remained at 88. In answer to a question during a conference call discussing the year, Reisman said that while the pandemic prompted Indigo to close underperforming stores in smaller communities, the company is reviewing its physical store footprint with respect to its omnichannel strategy. That model includes allowing customers to order a book online and pick it up at a store.

“We are looking to have the right kind of physical coverage to fully support the customers in a rich omni-channel way,” Reisman said. “And we actually believe that the customer has changed and in many ways that will work in favor of our physical environment.”

With the pandemic easing, the addition of Peter Ruis as new company president, and the expansion of its omni-channel model, Reisman said the company “look[s] forward to a return to profitability in fiscal 2022."