What happened

Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY) were slipping again today as investors continued to bet against the stock in the face of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

During a volatile day for stocks, the home goods retailer was briefly in positive territory as investors cheered the Federal Reserve's decision to cut interest rates this morning. But stocks plummeted in afternoon trading as reports of the virus spreading throughout the U.S. continued to emerge, and investors braced for further economic impact in spite of the rate cut.

Bed Bath & Beyond, which is seen as one of the weaker retailers on the market, fell as much as 6.8%, and finished the day down 4.1%. By comparison, the S&P 500 closed the session off 2.8%.

A woman shopping for pillows and towels

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

The decline came in spite of some solid earnings reports from Kohl's and Target, both of which seemed sanguine about the coronavirus.

Nonetheless, Bed Bath & Beyond is in the midst of a Hail Mary turnaround as comparable-store sales and earnings have plunged in recent quarters. The board brought in Target's former chief merchandising officer, Mark Tritton, in November to lead the company's turnaround, which elicited cheers from investors.

Tritton has been busy, selling off personalizationmall.com for $252 million and making changes to stores. Last week, the company said it would cut approximately 500 jobs in an effort to slash selling, general, and administrative costs by about $85 million annually.

However, the coronavirus threat will only complicate matters as the company attempts to bring customers back into stores. Like most retailers, it relies on China, at least indirectly, for much of its merchandise.

Now what

Shares are now down more than 20% since the coronavirus sell-off began in earnest last week. The company has yet to comment on the issue and won't report earnings until April, but other retailers, like Macy's, have said that they have seen a slowdown in goods coming from China. If the virus continue to inspire fear in consumers and investors, Bed Bath & Beyond shares are likely to head even lower.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.