Wayfair stock plunges as online sales tumble

Online retailer Wayfair saw its stock price plummet on Thursday amid a market rout among e-commerce companies.

Shares of the Boston-based company declined as much as 21 percent to a low of $71.80, after it announced first-quarter results that didn’t meet analysts’ expectations. The shares have lost more than 70 percent over the past six months.

Wayfair was among the biggest beneficiaries of changing consumer behavior during pandemic lockdowns, as more people shopped online and spent more money on home goods. But since lockdowns have eased, sales at Wayfair and other online sellers including Etsy, eBay, and Amazon have tailed off.

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In the first quarter, Wayfair’s sales totaled $3 billion, 14 percent less than the same period a year ago. The company posted a net loss of $319 million, or $3.04 per share. A year earlier, Wayfair had a profit of $18 million, or 18 cents a share.

Chief executive and cofounder Niraj Shah attempted to calm investors about the company’s mounting losses in a statement accompanying the results.

“We have complete confidence in the structural economics of our business based on the investments we have made and the key drivers that should propel profitability higher over time,” Shah said.

Shares of rival online retailers also plunged on Thursday. Etsy’s stock price dropped 15 percent, eBay was down 15 percent, and Amazon lost 5 percent.

Wayfair also announced on Thursday that chief financial officer Michael Fleisher plans to retire. Current chief people officer Karen Gulliver will take over the role starting in November.


Aaron Pressman can be reached at aaron.pressman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @ampressman.