GameStop is one of many companies that have struggled during the pandemic, however they were losing money long before March 2020. The Company had a strategy involving a large footprint and was committed to physical retail with a lagging online presence which soured with the onset of COVID-19. Last week, GameStop’s stock price began to rise and it came as sudden surprise. Normally, this rising action would have been preceded by a company announcement about sales gains, new stores, or some other beneficial news. What made the stock increase strange was the lack of any press releases from GameStop and the matter was further complicated by the price skyrocketing at a rate rarely seen. In the span of six days the stock price went from approximately $39 to $347. This didn’t just happen to GameStop; other companies like Bed Bath & Beyond and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. were also pulled into the frenzied action.

Photo by Michael Rivera (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Unfortunately for GameStop, the surging stock price does not mean the company has been saved from declining revenue. Instead of the stock price reflecting confidence in the company, it represents an ethics battle between financial institutions and individual investors. Major hedge funds bet on GameStop and other pandemic affected companies to fail by shorting the company’s stock. A large group of individual investors then took issue with this maneuver and combined their buying power to drive up GameStop’s stock price and forced these hedge funds to lose millions or billions in a short squeeze.

When the stock was at its height, GameStop was worth more than potentially 90% of U.S. companies, but that valuation isn’t based in reality. GameStop is stuck in the same difficult position it was last month when their stock was worth $19. The company has to pull themselves out of a tough situation that was in part created by COVID-19 and it appears that a focus on online sales is one way to start. The company has said that they will be unveiling a plan soon that will detail how they hope to recover. The company faces stiff competition from Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy that all have more robust ordering and delivery systems.

GameStop got caught in the crossfire between investors and it could have happened to any company. The biggest benefit for GameStop is that more people know their name than this time two weeks ago. If this event spreads to other businesses, it could be taken as a warning that the health of a company is not always reflected in the stock market. Eventually the stock price will come crashing back to normal and GameStop will have to bring it back up by improving their stores and online strategy. CSG’s Leading Chain Tenants PLUS database tracks financial data for the companies involved in this unprecedented event and our Locational Datasets are frequently updated as new locations open and others close.