Too often, market players extrapolate the state of the consumer to any retailer that reports, Jim Cramer said on TheStreet.com TV's Wall Street Confidential
Web video ednesday. But that is not the correct way to look at it. "There's a problem with the American consumer, and it has nothing to do with whether he's rich or poor," he said. Cramer said the problem is they don't like shopping as much as they used to at the venues everyone thought. People don't like to shop at Wal-Mart ( WMT), and they prefer not to shop at Safeway ( SWY) or Kroger ( KR) if they can avoid it, Cramer said. Consumers also don't want to go to the mall because it's crowded and they don't necessarily want to shop for the home because of problems surrounding the housing industry, he added. "That's the one thing that is deeply involved with the consumer, but it's restricted to Home Depot ( HD), Lowe's ( LOW) and Sears, ( SHLD)," the last of which Cramer owns for his charitable trust, Action Alerts PLUS . "What you have is a consumer who wants to be entertained and a consumer who wants to feel pampered and a consumer who wants a bargain," he said. These are services Target ( TGT) and Wal-Mart used to provide. While Target still has some of that flair, "the reason Costco ( COST) is doing well is because it's a better place to shop," Cramer explained.
People have to recognize that the era where they could conclude that if Target is good, the consumer is good, and if Wal-Mart is bad, the consumer is bad, "is an old model that no longer has to do with reality," he said. "You'll find that places that have good experiences are going to be better than the homogeneous nature of a Kohl's ( KSS), J.C. Penney ( JCP) and a Macy's ( M), which are not that attractive places," Cramer said. "Macy's in particular ... really let their stores go down because of the consolidation." Moreover, Cramer believes Kohl's is doing OK, but not great. "The weather has played havoc with a lot of these guys," Cramer said. "They have the wrong merchandise." Meanwhile, Costco does not have the wrong merchandise; it has a good thing going with its cheap gasoline, and "it's a more exciting, treasure-hunt place to shop," he said. "I think you're seeing a tiering here and the tiering has to do with execution, performance and fun to shop, not the consumer."