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Cramer: Mystery of the Missing Traffic

Stocks in this article: GPSANFDKSNKEWMT

Now, here's where the mall and shopping center come in. When you go to the mall you walk by a lot of stores. You are in traffic. But when you don't go to the mall you are not in traffic. I think when people are strapped, the mall is a distraction, if not the enemy. You are a kid in a candy store and you can't afford a lot of candy. You can afford what you want, but not what they want to sell you. So why go? Why have the hassle?

That's where the traffic went.

Now, rich people can still shop. That's Michael Kors (KORS). So can homeowners whose homes are going up in value and can be fixed up now without throwing good money after bad. You have to go to Home Depot (HD) or Lowe's (LOW) if you want to get the power tools and the kitchen and bath. By the way, integral to my thesis will be the number Restoration Hardware (RH) reports in three weeks because they sell the most expensive housewares. These hard-goods merchants are places where you still need the showroom and you might need the help. Plus, contractors go to Home Depot and Lowe's, not Target (TGT) and Wal-Mart (WMT), two more challenged retailers.

But further buttressing this thesis are the quarters of TJX (TJX) earlier this week and Ross Stores (ROST) last night. They were both bang-up. Throughout the retail food chain there is way too much apparel inventory. That's how TJ and Ross can shine. I bet their next quarters are even better, as this spring and summer apparel has to be cleared out at all costs.

That means, again, not enough traffic. It is, by the way, bad news for V.F. Corp., which is a premier apparel company, and you could see that stock roll over big-time in yesterday's up tape.

Yes, the Web sites, the social and the mobile, I think they are all combining to crush traffic even as the direct-to-consumer numbers have been pretty fabulous all across the board.

That means, to me, that the traffic stayed home and shopped. So it didn't matter what you did to pull the people strolling in the mall to the store. They weren't there anyway.

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