What happened

Shares of Ulta Beauty (ULTA -0.38%) were down sharply in afternoon trading on Tuesday, after the company said that it will close stores and withdraw its guidance in response to the growing coronavirus pandemic. 

As of 1:30 p.m. EDT, Ulta's shares were down about 8.9% from Monday's closing price.

So what

In a statement, Ulta said that it will close all of its stores from 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 19, until "at least" March 31. Its online store and fulfillment remain open, it said, and customers will still have the option to pick up online orders at stores as allowed by local authorities.

A row of lipstick and makeup testers in a beauty store.

Image source: Getty Images.

Ulta last week suspended many of its in-store services and asked corporate employees to work from home, in a bid to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

CEO Mary Dillon said that the company will continue to pay all employees, and will continue to provide benefits to employees who are currently enrolled, while the stores are closed.

Now what

Right now, it's not clear to anyone how the coronavirus pandemic will play out in North America (or anywhere else). Given that lack of clarity, it's no surprise that Ulta withdrew the guidance for fiscal 2020 that it provided to investors last week and declined to provide an updated outlook on Tuesday.