Ugly. 

Retail giants such as Macy's (M) - Get Report , J.C. Penney (JCP) - Get Report and Kohl's (KSS) - Get Report  were battered in the first quarter for a host of reasons. But, while the first quarter earnings season for retail was certainly disappointing, it wasn't exactly surprising, as a growing number of retailers have been forced to close waves of stores and file for bankruptcy lately. 

While many bankrupt retailers have specifically called out Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report for stealing their customers in court filings, Lindsey Bell, investment strategist for CFRA Research, said the e-commerce giant can't alone be blamed.

Bell thinks that as millennials grow to be the dominant shoppers in the U.S., consumer spending will shift even more toward value. That shift may already be playing out as evidenced by Gap's (GPS) - Get Report Old Navy seeing such strong comparable store sales to start the year. Meanwhile, Bell thinks electronics stores and mom-and-pop online retailers will flourish inside of retail's broader struggles.

"Personally, I shop at random [online] boutiques," Bell said. "I follow fashion bloggers, click on it and buy it."

So, e-commerce retailers like women's vintage-inspired retailer Modcloth.com and outdoor recreational retailer Moosejaw will likely benefit from this shift, which is probably why Walmart (WMT) - Get Report   made each part of its recent acquisition spree.

Bell said she thinks "they're all trying," but the retailers, like Target (TGT) - Get Report and Walmart, that experienced big online sales boosts in the past quarter are "seeing earlier successes." Walmart and Target notched 63% and 22% respective gains in their online sales in the first quarter, impressive all things being considered. 

Going forward, Bell believes retailers should hire more millennials. Those that nab the millennials from Alphabet (GOOGL) - Get Report  and Amazon could be the biggest winners. 

Alphabet is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells GOOGL? Learn more now.

Click here for the latest business headlines.