What happened

Shares of online home-goods retailer Wayfair (NYSE:W) were trading higher on Wednesday afternoon, as the company geared up for a major Fourth of July sale. As of 3 p.m. EDT, Wayfair's shares were up about 12% from Tuesday's closing price. 

Despite a steep decline in March amid the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, Wayfair's stock has gained more than 140% since the beginning of 2020.

W Chart

W data by YCharts.

So what

There was no major business news driving Wayfair's shares higher on Wednesday. The company is aggressively promoting a "July 4th Clearance Sale," with heavy discounts on outdoor furniture, appliances, and other products; it's possible that some investors are bidding up the stock in anticipation of a successful holiday weekend.

Stepping back a bit, I wonder if the rising rates of COVID-19 infections in parts of the U.S. that reopened early are spurring investor interest in the company. Wayfair, which makes nearly all of its sales online -- the company has just two physical stores, one of which is an outlet -- saw its business boom during the early weeks of the pandemic, when millions of consumers were stuck at home. 

So why is the stock up today? It's possible that consumer-discretionary investors are pricing in the possibility of a second wave of shelter-at-home orders in some parts of the U.S., and betting that cooped-up consumers might give Wayfair another sales boost in the weeks to come.

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

Image source: Wayfair.

Now what

Investors will have to wait a few more weeks for an update on the company's recent sales and outlook. While Wayfair hasn't yet announced a date for its second-quarter earnings report, it has reported in early August in each of the last three years. 

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.