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Small-cap ASX retail share surges 15% higher as online sales soar

The Baby Bunting Group Ltd (ASX: BBN) share price is surging higher today after the retailer provided a business update. At the time of writing, Baby Bunting shares are trading 14.98% higher for the day at $3.07 on the back of continued sales growth throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Online sales boom

This morning, Baby Bunting provided an update on its business performance during the second half of FY20. From the period between 30 December 2019 and 17 May 2020, the company posted total sales growth of 13.2% and comparable-store sales growth of 8.1%. Meanwhile, online sales in this period represented 17.3% of total sales – an impressive 66% jump compared to the prior corresponding period.

On a year-to-date basis, total sales growth is 10.3% while comparable-store sales growth comes in at 3.4%. Baby Bunting noted this sales performance reflects the less discretionary nature of the baby category.

Breaking down online sales further, the company saw online sales increasing from 12.4% of all sales before 23 March 2020 to 22.4% of sales through the following 2-month period to 17 May 2020. This represents an increase in online sales of 121% during this period, year over year.

Baby Bunting’s click and collect service is also proving to be a popular option, with around 42% of all online orders ending up as click and collect transactions at its stores.

However, the company noted that online sales have lower gross margins due to higher freight fulfilment costs compared to in-store sales.

All stores remain open

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, all Baby Bunting stores have remained open but the company has adapted to the various social distancing and hygiene measures.

According to today’s release, individual store performance has been mixed, while stores located in shopping centres and selected stores in Victoria and New South Wales have been affected by lower foot traffic.

In terms of buying trends, CEO Matt Spencer said there was strong initial demand for lower margin consumable products, such as baby wipes and nappies. As the lockdown period progressed, the company experienced a ramp-up in purchases of products for the nursery, including cots, furniture, toys, and bedding. Now that restrictions are beginning to be eased, demand for travel-related products, such as prams and car seats, has started to recover.

Capital expenditure program

In anticipation of future cash flow pressures, Baby Bunting introduced a prudent cost management program in March and April. However, now that the impact of COVID-19 on financial performance has become clearer, the company has decided to recommence capital expenditure that had previously been paused.

These costs are largely associated with the roll-out of the new brand across the full store network. The new brand features a more contemporary and gender-neutral logo and the roll-out is expected to be completed by the end of Q1 FY2021.

What’s next for Baby Bunting?

On 23 March, Baby Bunting withdrew its FY20 earnings guidance due to the uncertain nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the stellar sales result, the company notes that it remains difficult to anticipate consumer behaviour and the associated effect on sales, gross margin, and expenses. Therefore, no guidance will be provided for FY20.

The back end of the financial year (ending 30 June 2020) is traditionally Baby Bunting’s largest and most important promotional period.

Importantly, the company highlighted that its balance sheet remains strong with approximately $35 million in undrawn debt facilities.

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Motley Fool contributor Cathryn Goh has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.