Wesfarmers' retail network has returned to full operation, following the easing of COVID restrictions in New Zealand and north-western Tasmania.

In a business update, the Group revealed how each retail brand has performed during the COVID-19 period.

Unsurprisingly, digital eTailer Catch witnessed total sales growth boom during the pandemic, with total sales increasing 68.7% to the end of May (2H20).

Officeworks and Bunnings also saw decent increases in the half - as consumers set up their home offices and embarked on DIY projects - with total sales increasing 27.8% and 19.2% respectively.

Meanwhile Kmart saw more subdued growth in 2H20, with total sales up 4.1%, while Target's woes continued with sales slipping 1.8% in the half.

In a statement, Wesfarmers said that while traffic has returned to Kmart and Target, sales performance is still highly variable.

"In recent weeks, sales momentum in Kmart and Target has improved with a general increase in customer footfall in shopping centres and a recovery in customer demand for apparel, particularly winter clothing.

"Despite this improvement, weekly sales performance remains highly variable as customer shopping patterns adjust and competitor clearance activity continues.

"In Kmart, significant growth in high-demand categories such as home and living ranges has resulted in some availability issues in recent weeks and is expected to impact sales in June.

"Additional operating costs associated with COVID-19, together with the temporary closure of New Zealand stores, will also impact Kmart Group’s earnings in the 2020 financial year.

"Pleasing progress continues in Catch, with strong growth in both in-stock and marketplace segments and ongoing growth in Club Catch subscriptions," Wesfarmers said.

Overall digital sales in the calendar year to date remained strong for the Group, with the retail businesses delivering total online sales growth of 89%.

On a financial year to date basis, total online sales across the Group increased 60% to $1.4 billion or $1.9 billion including Catch.

Wesfarmers MD Rob Scott thanked the Group's staff for their efforts during this challenging time.

"I acknowledge and thank our team members for their incredible efforts to support each other and their communities, first during the devastating bushfires in Australia last summer and more recently through the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our divisions are taking appropriate steps to recognise the efforts of their teams, reflecting the different impacts experienced across the Group’s diverse operations.

"Each of our businesses remains vigilant in prioritising the safety of team members and customers.

"Safety measures, including restricting the number of people in store, may at times result in some inconvenience and we are grateful for the patience and understanding of customers," he said.

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