What happened

Shares of Shopify (SHOP 1.80%) fell more than 10% on Thursday, as investors grew increasingly fearful that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic would stifle consumer spending around the world.

So what

Financial markets in the U.S. and around the world plummeted after the COVID-19 outbreak worsened in Italy and many other countries. Promises of tax cuts by politicians and stimulus measures by central banks failed to assuage investors' concerns that the disease outbreak would drive the global economy into a severe downturn.

Shopify's stock fell sharply amid this frightening backdrop, along with many other stocks.

A downwardly sloping red arrow against a black background.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

High-priced growth stocks like Shopify tend to pull back violently during periods of market distress, so the rapidly expanding -- and richly valued -- commerce-platform's shares could certainly head lower in the days ahead.

If such a scenario does come to fruition, long-term investors may wish to use it as a chance to buy shares at a discount. Shopify has long runways for growth still ahead in its core e-commerce business and a tremendous opportunity for expansion with its new fulfillment network. Shares are already down nearly 40% from their 52-week high, and any further declines would make the stock an even more attractive buy.