Big W has experienced sales growth across all areas of the business, buoyed by Halloween, Click Frenzy, Black Friday, and Christmas sales events, driving sales up 20.1% to $2.58 billion for the six months to 31 December 2020.

Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) surged by 166% attributed to strong sales, gross margin improvements and good cost control, despite higher Covid-related costs.

Online sales increased by 120% in the half and 91% in Q2 alone, in part due to increased demand for home delivery and pick up with record ecommerce penetration of 9.5%. Contactless direct to boot was rolled out in 75 locations and same day delivery was launched prior to Christmas.

During the half, 22 stores received new fixtures and layouts in the apparel, baby, and home categories with two full store renewals completed.

The total store network remained unchanged at 179 stores. The transition to a third-party DC network will begin in the second half including new warehouse sites in Kewdale, WA and Hopper’s Crossing, VIC.

Woolworths group CEO, Brad Banducci said group sales for the first seven weeks of the second half of FY21 have remained strong; however, growth rates have continued to moderate over the period.

“Looking ahead to the rest of the financial year, we expect sales to decline over the March to June period compared to the prior year in all of our businesses,” he said.

As for priorities for second half, Banducci said the group will continue to accelerate digital as an increasingly important part of the customer shopping journey.

“We have added significant ecommerce capacity across the group over the last year. As growth rates in the second half slow as we cycle peak Covid-demand, we have an opportunity to optimise ecommerce at scale and deliver further efficiency.

“It is increasingly important that we personalise value for our customers. We aspire to do this by leveraging our various rewards programs and continuing to evolve our store propositions to provide the right range for the local community.”