Editor's Note: This article was originally published at 7:31 a.m. EDT on Real Money on Aug. 23. To see Jim Cramer's latest commentary as it's published, sign up for a free trial of Real Money.
NEW YORK ( Real Money) -- We've seen a major conundrum this retail season and it is on the minds of every retailer I know: the dramatic -- and that's not too strong a word -- decline in traffic, in people coming to the stores.
Think about it. Almost every retailer who missed expectations complained about traffic, particularly the apparel retailers. When you studied that horrendous miss from Abercrombie (ANF) -- and everyone should study it so you never get caught in a teen apparel mess again -- you come back to one word: "traffic." They simply couldn't get people into the stores. Same with all of the other cascading teen apparel stores that had been such a hotbed of hedge fund activity.
(VFC) materials sold at department stores and the Nike (NKE) clothing sold at Dick's (DKS) (I am saying Nike because Dick's specifically said there was no problem with Under Armour (UA) clothes.) Even Gap (GPS), which reported a stellar quarter last night (truly terrific with a guide up and dividend boost and one that we like for Action Alerts PLUS) talked about a decline in traffic for its stores. Very puzzling. So let me trace out a theory. I think this might be the quarter, and the year, where the stay-at-home shopper, using all of these cool Web sites, trumps the person who gets in his or her car and goes to the shopping center or the shopping mall (remember from the REITs they are two different things, but for the purposes of this thesis they are the same.) The hassle-free Web experience has now trumped the hassle-plenty mall existence which, at a time where disposable income isn't increasing, could be the key to the declining traffic. Ask yourself, have you bought goods at the Web site of the company you want the product of where you might have gone to the mall to get it otherwise? You bet you have.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV