What happened

Shares of several retail-chain operators were falling along with the broader market on Wednesday, after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell signaled his growing concern about the current downturn in the U.S. economy.

Here's where things stood for these three companies' stocks as of 3 p.m. EDT, relative to their closing prices on Tuesday.

So what

The broader market's slide was triggered by a speech by Powell on Wednesday morning, when he said that the path ahead for the U.S. economy is "highly uncertain and subject to significant downside risks."

That's not encouraging for these three retailers, which all are eager to get their physical stores reopened and revenue flowing. All three have been scrambling to preserve cash since closing most of their brick-and-mortar stores in March amid the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

A Bed Bath & Beyond storefront.

Bed Bath & Beyond has delayed its plan to reopen stores until at least May 30. Image source: Bed Bath & Beyond.

Given that there was no significant news on any of the three on Wednesday, the broader market sell-off probably explains why the stocks were down. That said, here are the most recent developments from each company that might be of interest to retail investors.

  • Bed Bath & Beyond said on Monday that it will wait to reopen most of its stores until May 30, while expanding no-contact curbside pickup to more locations and boosting its online-fulfillment capabilities in the interim. It will continue to pay 100% of the cost of health insurance for its furloughed store employees while stores are closed. The company had said previously that it would begin reopening stores on May 16.
  • Designer Brands, owner of DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse and other big-box shoe chains, said on May 4 that it began reopening its stores on April 30 and expected to open another 200 by the end of last week. The company suspended dividends and share repurchases on May 1, after amending the terms of its $400 million revolving line of credit. 
  • Gap on May 7 announced a series of moves to bolster its balance sheet. It said that it had completed its offering of $2.25 billion in senior secured notes, established a new $1.868 billion revolving-credit facility, and paid off $500 million outstanding on its prior credit facility. A day earlier (May 6), Gap said that it plans to reopen 800 of its stores by the end of May. 

Now what

Investors in Bed Bath & Beyond heard from that company's senior leaders when it reported its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings on April 15. Designer Brands and Gap haven't yet announced dates for their next quarterly earnings reports, but both have typically reported in late May in past years. 

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