What happened

Shareholders of Tractor Supply (NASDAQ:TSCO) are trouncing the market this year. The stock jumped 41% compared with a 4% decline in the S&P 500 through the end of June, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

That rally is enough to make the rural lifestyle specialist one of the best-performing stocks in the broader retailing industry.

A farm with horses grazing.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

It has been a bumpy ride in recent months. Tractor Supply started 2020 by announcing weak customer traffic over the 2019 holiday season, which contributed to a third consecutive quarter of slowing growth. Investors' attitudes shifted following signs that the retailer was thriving through the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of its stores remained open, and sales and profit gains accelerated in the fiscal first quarter.

Now what

There's no telling how long Tractor Supply will benefit from elevated demand for home and farm supplies, and its reasonable to expect slower growth ahead. Yet the business has demonstrated a strong relationship with its customers through the pandemic. At the same time, the strides it has made in bulking up its online selling platform should pay dividends for long after the COVID-19 threat has passed.