Ahead of the big back-to-school push, Barnes & Noble Education reported that total revenue increased 3.7%, to $264.2 million, in the quarter ended July 29, over the comparable period in fiscal 2022. The company cut its net loss to $50.4 million, from $52.7 million a year ago.

The quarter is the first in B&NE’s fiscal 2024, and is much smaller than the next two periods, during which schools are in session. Nonetheless, executives said that they were encouraged by the results, noting that the sales increase came despite B&NE operating 117 fewer stores than a year ago, as the company continues to close unprofitable or marginally profitable stores.

The big sales drivers in the quarter were B&NE’s First Day models, which saw a 37% sales increase, to $61.8 million. (First Day, which provide students with all the course materials they will need for a year, is included as a fee or as part of tuition.) Total retail sales rose 3.7%, to $245.4 million.

B&NE’s much smaller wholesale division saw sales rise 4.6%, to $38.8 million, from $37.1 million in the prior year period.

B&NE is counting on its First Day models to return the company to profitability. Commenting on results, CEO Michael Huseby said that, with 157 stores participating in B&NE’s First Day programs in the quarter, momentum for those programs continues to build, putting the company in good position to post strong growth in its “high volume” second and third quarters.

The company maintain its earlier prediction that, for the fiscal year ended next April, non–GAAP adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) will be approximately $40 million, up from a loss of $8.2 million in fiscal 2023.