Six months ago Urban Outfitters (URBN) was a darling, with Free People -- and, again, Williams Sonoma analogue Anthropologie -- leading the way. Now, though, it's looking like a failed turnaround play, with its flagship store, Urban Outfitters, faltering badly.
Heck, we have retailers split month to month. J.C. Penney
(JCP) was bad, but now it's good. Gap
(GPS) was bad, now it's good. Sears
(SHLD) is good, now it's bad -- or, at least, the restless, redeeming limited partners of Eddie Lampert's hedge fund might be thinking it is bad, as they are voting with their feet.
Oh and let's not forget that Wal-Mart (WMT), Target (TGT) and Kohl's (KSS) are missing badly while Costco (COST) is hitting it out of the park. Meanwhile Amazon (AMZN), well, is Amazon, meaning it's amazing.
The conundrum extends to hard goods: GameStop (GME) and Best Buy (BBY) seem to have run out of gas. But have they? GameStop derisked itself with lowered expectations, but the stock has kept going down since then. Best Buy feels overrecommended. Is there really anyone left to recommend?
It's just a vicious minefield, and I don't know anyone who has been able to navigate it.Perhaps the best thing to do is to just stay away from the darned thing until we get some clarity. That is if there is any clarity to be had. At the time of publication, Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, was long COST and TJX.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published at 8:35 a.m. EST on Real Money on Dec. 4.