What happened

The five-day-long stock market rally took a breather on Tuesday, with shares of consumer-facing stocks including clothier American Eagle Outfitters (AEO 1.64%), rental car company Avis Budget Group (CAR 2.29%), and e-coupon hawker Groupon (GRPN 2.21%) falling 5%, 5.1%, and 5.3%, respectively through 3:30 p.m. EDT.

So what

Why did these three stocks in particular fall so much harder than the S&P 500 as a whole (the S&P, by the way, is only down about 0.7%)?

That's hard to say. There isn't, so far as I can tell, any particular news of note weighing on any of these three shares today -- no negative press releases, earnings warnings, or even analyst downgrades that would explain why American Eagle, Avis, or Groupon in particular should be suffering.  

Three colorful arrows all pointing down.

Image source: Getty Images.

What we do have, however, is a new report out from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warning that coronavirus is continuing to depress the economy and threatens to drive unemployment levels up to the highest levels seen since the Great Depression -- and that unemployment won't return to pre-recession levels before 2022.

Exacerbating investors' concerns on this front, the White House is apparently urging Congress toward restraint in funding its next round of stimulus spending to counteract the economy's contraction. In contrast to the trillions spent on previous rounds of stimulus, President Trump is apparently asking Congress to keep the next round of stimulus below even $1 trillion.  

Now what

Absent financial assistance from the federal government, consumers without jobs -- without paychecks -- aren't likely to do a whole lot of discretionary spending until the economy pulls itself out of recession. That's something that might not happen until a coronavirus vaccine has been discovered, and proven both effective and safe.

In the meantime, investors may be thinking today that unemployed Americans are likely to cut back on their purchases of clothing, coupons for a discounted massage, an apartment-cleaning service, or a meal at a restaurant. They're almost certainly not going to be renting a lot of cars to drive on vacation.

That seems a logical way of thinking to me -- and a good reason for these stocks to be going down today.