Covid e-commerce rally pressures Etsy and Wayfair to show investors they have long-term durability

An employee walks past a quilt displaying Etsy Inc. signage at the company's headquarters in the Brooklyn.
Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

For online retailers Etsy and Wayfair, 2020 got off to an ugly start.

Wayfair cut 3% of its workforce, or about 500 jobs, in February because of mounting losses. By mid-March the stock was down over 70% for the year. In early April, Etsy withdrew its guidance for 2020 after business dipped due to the coronavirus.

Their fortunes changed quickly and dramatically. Both sites became havens for consumers trying to weather the pandemic, resulting in two straight quarters of triple-digit revenue growth at Etsy and Wayfair's fastest expansion since going public in 2014.

Now, both stocks are up over 180% for the year, including gains of more than 2% on Monday, topping Amazon's 61% rise. Wayfair's market cap has topped $24 billion, and Etsy is now worth almost $16 billion.

Wayfair, Etsy and Amazon this year

But these companies aren't Amazon, a $1.5 trillion behemoth that's proved it can generate investor returns regardless of economic conditions.