What happened

Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY) shareholders outperformed a surging market last month. The stock jumped 17% in May compared to a 4.5% increase in the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The rally removed only a tiny portion of recent losses, though, as shares remain lower by nearly 60% so far in 2020.

A woman shopping using her smartphone.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

May's stock price boost was mostly a reflection of rising optimism in the hardest-hit segments of the retailing industry. Bed Bath & Beyond joined struggling peers like Kohl's in rising last month as investors began to look past the current store closures to the resumption of normal selling activity.

Bed Bath & Beyond added to that optimism by announcing plans to have most of its stores open by mid-June.

Now what

The retailing chain's broader 2020 sales and earnings results should be pressured by the COVID-19 disruption, and growth wasn't looking good before the pandemic, either. Those challenges suggest that investors might want to wait for concrete signs of a rebound before buying shares of the specialty retailer.

Sure, its online channel saw a spike in volume during social distancing efforts in April and March. But Bed Bath & Beyond likely has a long period of work ahead that includes rethinking its physical store presence, branding, and merchandise offering mix.