What happened

Shares of several retail-chain operators were rising on Monday, amid a broad-based market rally as investors grew more optimistic about the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Here's where things stood for these four companies' stocks as of 12:15 p.m. EDT today relative to their closing prices on Friday.

So what

The broad market's rally on Monday was driven by news that interim data from an early study of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) showed positive results. While an approved mass-produced vaccine is still months way (at best), investors took it as a good sign. Shares of many companies hit hard by the virus were trading higher by midday.

A Bed Bath & Beyond storefront, with an empty parking lot.

Most of Bed Bath & Beyond's stores will remain closed until at least the end of May. Image source: Bed Bath & Beyond.

That, together with signs that buyers are returning to stores as America continues to reopen, were probably the forces driving these stocks higher on Monday. There was no breaking news on any of the four; here are the most recent developments on each.

  • Bed Bath & Beyond said on May 11 that most of its stores will remain closed until at least May 30. In the interim, it's boosting its online-fulfillment capabilities and expanding no-contact curbside pickup to more locations. The company announced several senior executive appointments on May 1. 
  • Designer Brands' last update was on May 4, when it said that it began reopening its stores on April 30 and expected to open another 200 by the end of that week. The company amended the terms of its $400 million line of credit on May 1, after which it said that it will suspend dividend payments and share repurchases for the time being. The company operates DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse and other big-box shoe store chains.
  • Kohl's is expected to provide a comprehensive update to investors when it reports earnings Tuesday morning. It said on May 7 that it had reopened stores in four states, and that it planned to reopen locations in 10 more states by mid-May. 
  • L Brands is also reporting earnings this week, after the market closes on Wednesday. (Its earnings call will be on Thursday, May 21, at 9 a.m.) The company hasn't said much since May 4, when its planned sale of the troubled Victoria's Secret chain to a private-equity group fell through. 

Now what

Investors focused on the retail space are well aware that we don't yet have a clear read on consumer discretionary demand right now. That's the question for these retailers (and many other companies). 

When will we start to get answers? Bed Bath & Beyond's management team gave us an update when it reported its earnings results last month. Investors in Kohl's and L Brands can look forward to updates in the next few days. Designer Brands hadn't yet announced a date for its next earnings report as of this writing, but it'll likely happen in the next few weeks. 

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.