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Big W customer shares ‘surreal’ TikTok in partially roped off store

A new TikTok video that takes viewers on a tour of a Sydney Big W which has been transformed due to Covid has sparked controversy online.

The video, which runs for just over a minute and is captioned "Surreal shopping experience at Big W", was posted by TikTok user on Wednesday.

It takes viewers on a walk around the store noting that many sections have been blocked off with ropes.

“Very curious visit to Big W (an Australian discount retailer),” an automated voiceover says.

TikTok screengrabs showing Big W store with some sections roped off. Source: Source: TikTok/
The TikTok showed that the toiletries and food sections appear to be open, with some clothing available. Source: TikTok/

“During this current lockdown in Sydney, they have decided which goods are essential and not essential.”

The video pans to signs throughout the store which say “Non-essential department: shopping not permitted at this time.”

Roped off areas in the video include the party section, toy section, athletics section, home décor section, kitchen section, and some clothing.

“The non-essential goods have been roped off - things like some clothes are not essential,” the voiceover says.

“Chocolate, chips and snack foods are all essential.”

The video ends with a cheeky statement on equivalent department stores in the US.

“I wonder if this was America, would the guns be in the essential or non-essential section?”

This TikTok has emerged as NSW residents count down to coming out of lockdown on October 11.

TikTokers confused by layout change: ‘What’s the point?’

Many TikTok users have taken to the comments section to question the Big W’s store layout choice.

“What’s the point, you’re already there, why not just let customers walk an extra 5 metres?” wrote one TikToker.

“Some shops aren’t able to run click and collect during lockdown and they’re trying to find ways to skirt guidelines legally,” said another.

Big W storefront. Source: AAP
TikTok users are confused about the layout. Source: AAP

Other TikTok users have taken to the comments section to highlight how other large-plan stores are continuing to operate during the NSW lockdowns.

“I don’t understand - you can still go to Bunnings,” commented one person.

“This is very strange as Costco is still open and you can still buy clothes and shoes,” wrote another.

Big W has recently been slammed by its customers on social media for an ‘irresponsible’ decision to sell plastic plates in their party section, and ‘outrageous’ rules imposed during their Toy Sale.

TikTok questions definition of ‘essential’

TikTok users have also left scratching themselves by the items have been deemed "non-essential" by Big W.

“So underwear isn’t essential but a home brew kit is?” commented one person.

“The definition of essential is scary - can’t access workout gear or kids clothes but can access makeup and Halloween decorations,” said another.

“How can they say that clothes aren’t essential but rubbish food is?” wrote a third.

Others have taken to the comments section to highlight circumstances that have kept them from accessing items that they need from the retailer.

“But we could need an appliance or funeral clothes or something,” said one person.

“I needed an iPhone cord because mine broke but apparently it's non-essential,” commented another.

“My kettle broke but it’s considered non-essential so I guess I can’t get a new one,” wrote a third.

Big W clarifies layout change decision

A spokesperson from Big W has told Yahoo News that all store-change decisions have been made in line with government guidelines.

"Our NSW stores have been trading during lockdown on a restricted basis with customers able to shop in-store for essential items only," the spokesperson said.

"From Monday October 11, customers will be able to resume shopping our entire range in our NSW stores, with Covid Safe measures in place to ensure a safe shopping experience.

Big W storefront. Source: Getty Images
A Big W spokesperson indicated that vaccination status will be relevant when stores reopen. Source: Getty Images

"Big W will be following the NSW Public Health Order which requires us to ensure that all customers and team members are fully vaccinated or can provide a medical contraindication certificate in order to enter and shop safely in our stores.

"For those who are not yet fully vaccinated, shopping with us online continues to be an effective and safe way to get everything you need to help make your big days happen."

A Big W employee also commented on the popular TikTok, giving some insight into how essential item decisions were made.

“As someone who works at Big W and has recently come out of lockdown, we didn’t decide what was essential, it was the government and then head office.”

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