What happened

Shares of online home-goods retailer Wayfair (NYSE:W) had a tremendous run in April, as it became clear that stuck-at-home consumers were still shopping -- and quite a few were shopping at Wayfair's sites.

Wayfair's stock ended April with a gain of 132.1%, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

W Chart

W data by YCharts. Chart shows the change in Wayfair's stock price during April 2020.

So what

Here's some important context for that huge April gain: Wayfair's stock, like many others, had a much rougher ride in March.

W Chart

W data by YCharts. Chart shows the change in Wayfair's stock price during March 2020.

But by the end of April, it had recovered to pre-coronavirus levels -- and beyond. It has surged even higher since. 

W Chart

W data by YCharts. Chart shows the change in Wayfair's stock price from Jan. 1, 2020, through April 30, 2020.

Here's what drove that big run-up in April and since: Wayfair's sales have surged since most brick-and-mortar rivals were forced to shutter their stores in mid-March amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a statement on April 6, Wayfair confirmed that its business had been booming since mid-March. Wayfair's gross revenue had been running at about 20% above year-ago levels before the crisis, but it was up more than 40% year over year by the end of March and into April. 

While other retailers were slashing costs and suspending guidance, Wayfair said it was on track to meet or exceed the quarterly guidance it had provided on Feb. 28. It did exactly that when it reported earnings on May 5, sending the stock up another 26%.

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

Image source: Wayfair.

Now what

There's no question that Wayfair has made the most of the opportunity to increase sales while its rivals' stores are closed. But now it gets tougher, with states lifting restrictions and competitors' stores beginning to reopen.

Wayfair itself acknowledged that on May 5, when it declined to give guidance for the current quarter. Consumer-discretionary investors have made Wayfair's stock a darling for the time being, but this is still a money-losing company with a very volatile stock: Investors' patience might well be tested over the next few months. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.