What happened

Shares of retail stocks were down again on Wednesday, as investors continued to adjust their expectations in light of the fast-moving coronavirus pandemic.

Here's where things stood for these stocks as of 3 p.m. EDT:

  • Designer Brands (DBI -3.26%), owner of Discount Shoe Warehouse and other shoe stores, was down 32%
  • RH (RH -2.35%), the parent company of Restoration Hardware, was down 10%
  • Williams-Sonoma (WSM 0.43%) was down 16.7%
  • Ulta Beauty (ULTA -0.62%) was down 16.8%

So what

All four of these companies have seen aggressive selling in recent days, as investors come to terms with the impact of social distancing. Health authorities in the U.S., Canada, and Europe have strongly encouraged (and in some areas, ordered) citizens to stay at home in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

Here are the latest updates from these four companies:

  • Designer Brands said on Tuesday that it will close all of its stores and cut its quarterly dividend by 60% in an effort to preserve cash. It's not clear whether store employees will be paid during the shutdown. 
  • RH said today that it will close its brick-and-mortar stores in North America from 7 p.m. tonight through March 27. Its online store will remain open. Store employees will continue to be paid through the shut-down period.
  • Williams-Sonoma has also closed all of its stores in the U.S. and Canada as of Tuesday night. It said that it plans to reopen on April 2. The company will continue to offer in-store pickup as local authorities allow, and its distribution centers and online store will continue to operate. But it didn't say whether employees would continue to be paid while stores are closed. 
  • Ulta Beauty said on Tuesday that it will close all of its stores at 6 p.m. on Thursday through at least March 31. Store and salon employees will continue to be paid through this time. The company will not offer in-store pickup for online orders while stores are closed. 
A woman inspects a sneaker in a shoe store.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Just about every brick-and-mortar retailer in the U.S. and Canada has had a brutal March. Store traffic has fallen sharply as consumers heed authorities' requests to stay home and avoid contact with others. 

For now, the strategy for each of these companies will center on reducing cash burn while they wait for the pandemic to subside. Clearly, the next few months will be tough -- but it's too early to tell how quickly any of these companies will be able to recover.