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Wayfair's Shares Sink On Coronavirus-Related Economic Worries

By John Rosevear - Mar 27, 2020 at 3:09PM

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If consumers cut spending, that hurts online stores, too.

What happened

Shares of Wayfair (W 9.09%) fell sharply on Friday, down 15.5% as of 2:15 p.m. EDT, as concerns about the duration of the coronavirus pandemic and the potential economic aftereffects drove a broad-based sell-off of retail stocks.

So what

Like many stocks of smallish companies with high growth potential, Wayfair's shares tend to be volatile. Wayfair's stock lost about three-quarters of its value from the beginning of February through March 19, as investors sold off on post-holiday layoffs and slowing growth -- and then fears of a coronavirus-induced economic train wreck. 

W Chart

W data by YCharts.

Wayfair's shares then began a rally last Friday, and continued to rise until falling today. Even with today's decline, they're still up over 65% in a week. 

W Chart

W data by YCharts.

What's the point? This is a stock that makes big moves on relatively small changes in the outlook. Investors on Friday were selling off shares of brick-and-mortar retailers on worries that the coronavirus shutdown in the U.S. and Canada now looks likely to last longer than initially expected. 

Wayfair isn't a brick-and-mortar retailer, but it will certainly be affected if consumers cut back discretionary spending due to fears about the virus's effect on the economy, so many of the same concerns apply. 

A living room staged with Wayfair's furniture and home goods.

Image source: Wayfair.

Now what

All that said, unlike its rivals, Wayfair isn't burning cash on leases for shuttered stores, and its primary revenue engines (its websites) remain open for business. 

Investors who are rightly worried about the next couple of quarters would do well to consider that this is a company that generated over $9 billion in revenue and had more than 20 million customers last year. It isn't going away. 

John Rosevear has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Wayfair. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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