What happened

Shares of several brick-and-mortar department store operators were rising on Tuesday, amid growing indications that stores around the U.S. could begin to reopen as soon as next week, as government officials relax rules intended to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

Here's where things stood for these companies' stocks as of 1 p.m. EDT, relative to their closing prices on Monday.

  • Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) was up 11.4%.
  • Designer Brands (DBI -3.05%) was up 8.2%.
  • Gap (GPS -2.52%) was up 8.6%.
  • Kohl's (KSS -3.23%) was up 4.7%.
  • Macy's (M -2.26%) was up 7%.

So what

Here's the bit of news that is driving retail stocks (and credit card stocks) higher on Tuesday: Shopping-mall operator Simon Properties Group (SPG -1.30%) said that it plans to reopen 49 of its U.S. malls and outlet centers by next Monday, May 4. 

Even if they reopen with restrictions, that's big news. Retail-focused investors have been waiting eagerly for signs that stores might soon reopen, while bracing for the possibility that they could remain closed for months. Most nonessential stores in the U.S., Canada, and much of Europe, including department stores, have been closed since mid-March as part of efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

A Bed Bath & Beyond store entrance.

Bed Bath & Beyond has been using some of its shuttered stores as distribution centers for online orders, but investors would like to see them reopen. Image source: Bed Bath & Beyond.

All of these chains were among those that shut down their stores last month. While all have managed (to varying degrees) to make up for some of the lost sales via their online storefronts, all have furloughed many employees, and are losing money right now.

Even partial, regional reopenings would alleviate the financial stress on these companies. That's why investors were bidding the prices of these five stocks higher on Tuesday. 

Now what

Investors got a detailed update from Bed Bath & Beyond's management team when the company reported earnings on April 15. Investors in Designer Brands, Gap, Kohl's, and Macy's will have to wait a bit longer to hear from their companies' executives: All four are expected to report quarterly earnings in the second half of May.