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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Don't bet against the American consumer, Jim Cramer advised on "Mad Money" Wednesday. Cramer said with nearly two-thirds of the U.S. economy powered by consumer spending, investors need to pay attention to consumers' every move.
There have been many negatives surrounding the retail sector coming into 2014, Cramer noted. The failure to pass an unemployment benefits extension, high heating bills and the worst winter in nearly 37 years all contributed to a lack of faith in the retailers. When even Wal-Mart (WMT) missed estimates, the panic began to set in.
Cramer said that initially it was thought customers just switched from apparel to hard goods, but poor earnings from Best Buy (BBY) squashed that notion. Then it was assumed that shoppers just moved to Amazon.com (AMZN), avoiding brick-and-mortar stores altogether.Couple all these negatives with the massive security breach at Target (TGT) and it's easy to see why retail stocks have been pummeled this year. But Cramer noted that investors have only been looking at the negatives surrounding retail. They've been ignoring stronger new-home sales, increased spending around existing homes and comments from retail execs that sales have been stronger ever since Valentine's Day. These positives are how retail stocks have been able to rally this week, even on disappointing earnings, Cramer concluded.