In its report for the first quarter of fiscal 2023, which ended July 2, Indigo Books & Music reported an 18.9% rise in revenue to C$204.6 million ($160 million), compared to C$172 from the same period in 2021. The Canadian bookseller also reported that its net loss rose to C$25.4 million ($20 million) from C$21.9 million in the same period last year. The company cited supply chain issues and inflation, as well as investments made to improve the company's technology and website, as factors contributing to the higher loss.

The big sales driver was a huge gain in sales through Indigo's physical stores where sales jumped 59.5%, to C$143.9 million, over last year's first quarter. Indigo attributed the increase to a return to more normal sales patterns as consumer traffic -- depressed by rolling Covid closures to stores last year -- increased significantly. The chain said transaction levels were ahead of pre-pandemic levels although the retailer said it has started to see more consumer browsing. Indigo's smaller stores showed the biggest increase with sales jumping 101%, to C$20.1 million and superstore sales increased 54%, to C$123.8 million.

The increase in retail sales offset a 30.3% drop in online sales in the quarter, which fell to C$51.9 million from C$74.5 million a year ago. Despite the quarterly sales decline, Indigo noted that online sales are still well above pre-pandemic levels and that online searching by consumers has led to a higher in-store sales conversion rate.

Indigo said that sales of books and other print items rose by double digits in the quarter as did sales in its general merchandising category. Print sales were boosted by TikTok promotions, the company noted. Sideline sales of the firm's proprietary lifestyle brands were also strong and continuing to grow. At the end of the quarter, sales in the print group accounted for 56.7% of Indigo's revenue and general merchandise generated 39% of sales.

"We are pleased to see the positive sales growth, fueled by a steady improvement to store traffic and the continued success of our online business," said CEO Heather Reisman.