The number of initial public offerings filed in the U.S. last year increased 108.7% year over year to 407 from 195 in 2019, according to data from Trading Platforms. IPOs in 2020 were the highest they had been in two decades, from a high of 429 in 2000, the data found.
After a lull in Q1 of last year — when the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the U.S. — IPO activity picked back up in the second half of the year as lockdown restrictions eased and stimulus packages were released by the Federal Reserve.
- Retail IPO activity was off to a slow start in 2020 but picked up in the back half of the year with eight companies filing IPOs in Q4, according to FactSet. Total retail IPOs reached 12 in 2020.
While the number of initial public offerings filed by retailers accounted for a slim percentage of total IPOs in 2020, they still increased 100% year over year from just six in 2019, according to FactSet data.
The year kicked off with an IPO from Casper, which made its public debut in February last year. But as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in mid-March, resulting in insurmountable uncertainty and financial trouble, activity slowed. According to S&P Global data, seven retailers — which include online car sellers like Vroom — filed IPOs in the first nine months of the year.
Momentum picked up again in the second half of the year just as retailers were reopening brick-and-mortar stores that were temporarily shuttered and stimulus checks were being distributed to consumers.
In September, Poshmark initiated the process of becoming a publicly-traded company and officially filed its S-1 in December. And after the pet retail sector came out as one of the few beneficiaries of the pandemic, Petco filed to go public late last year, raising $939 million in net proceeds.
The past year also popularized alternative forms of going public, namely through special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs. BarkBox parent company Bark announced in December it would go public through an agreement with SPAC Northern Star Acquisition Corp. to be acquired. The number of SPAC-led deals reached 248 in 2020, up from just 59 the year prior. And IPO fundraising through SPAC deals exceeded $83 billion last year, an increase from $3.9 billion in 2015 and $503 million in 2010.