The second half of 2020 began on Wednesday, and investors got a condensed version of what they've seen much of the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -0.93%) lost ground, weighed down by poor-performing old-economy stocks. However, the S&P 500 (^GSPC -0.71%) and Nasdaq Composite did much better, buoyed in part by fast-growing upstart companies that have proven their mettle quickly in the coronavirus crisis.

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Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Many of the best performers in recent months have been tied to the rise of e-commerce. With store closures keeping shoppers at home, the need for businesses to develop their online channels has been acute, but top companies have risen to the occasion. Square (SQ 0.15%) and Wayfair (W -1.25%) are in different industries, but they share the common goal of allowing people to do things online that they used to have to do in person.

It's hip to be Square

Shares of Square were higher by more than 10% Wednesday, reaching an all-time record high. Favorable comments from Wall Street analysts helped to send the share price up once again.

Analysts at Rosenblatt upgraded Square from neutral to buy, boosting their price target on the stock by $42 per share to $121. Square has already benefited greatly from its Cash App, and with more users taking advantage of the platform for spending, the company should continue to boost the amount of revenue it gets from there. In addition, Square is poised to keep releasing a rich pipeline of new features that should continue to attract new users and keep existing ones coming back for more.

Square logo and company name in black.

Image source: Square.

Some investors fear that Square's stock has gotten ahead of itself. With the economy potentially already in a recession, changes in spending patterns could be headwinds for the fintech stock. Moreover, if small businesses don't bounce back, the damage could be disproportionately large for Square, which concentrates on that end of the market.

Nevertheless, Square has a lot going for it, including its assistance for clients seeking government funding. That could build goodwill and keep customers loyal for years to come.

A second wave for Wayfair?

Wayfair stock climbed 11% Wednesday. The move seemed to reflect what's recently been an unpopular view on Wall Street: that a second wave of COVID-19 infections could keep people at home a lot longer than initially hoped.

Wayfair has proven naysayers wrong with its past success, defying those who said that consumers would never be willing to purchase furniture sight unseen. Instead, customers were happy to avoid visits to showrooms even before the coronavirus pandemic struck. Now, with many regular furniture stores facing closures once again, Wayfair finds itself not just as a better option but rather the only option for many customers.

The big question is whether Wayfair will return to pre-coronavirus conditions with its business. The company laid off hundreds of workers earlier this year, but favorable sales trends would suggest that Wayfair should be back in hiring mode. Yet executives seem conservative, apparently fearing that trends could change rapidly.

For now, though, things seem to be working in Wayfair's favor. That's no guarantee of permanent success, but the rise of remote shopping has definitely given Wayfair the opportunity to pursue faster growth in the months to come.