NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Through the early part of 2011, I was high on high-end retail. The bet, on stocks such as Ralph Lauren ( RL) paid off.
While I have cooled slightly on luxury names, I still love them long term (and long time). Certainly the bubble I live in informs this sentiment. Stroll top shopping streets in Southern California. You'll see plenty of people out buying stuff. Expensive stuff. And eating meals. In Manhattan, restaurants overflow, even on Tuesday nights. There's hustle and bustle, which translates into feet on the street and money being spent, but it's generally a regional/local phenomenon. I'm still fleshing out the theory I introduced in The Death and Life of Great American Retailers. This notion that shopping has become an online and urban sport. Convenience and the built environment drive what is a not-so-new reality, but it's also the idea of inequality in society. For example, it is fascinating to look at Los Angeles. Sociologists such as Mike Davis have been for years. People who live in close proximity to one another experience the place in profoundly different ways. When you go to the grocery store you're probably interacting with a checkout clerk who, if he or she even lives in your neighborhood, views and uses it so much differently than you do. It's even more likely that this hourly worker doesn't live where you reside, especially if it's a relatively affluent place. The guy who I see almost daily at Starbucks ( SBUX) in Santa Monica bikes in from Compton. Santa Monica and Compton -- polar opposite places, man. But you don't even need to take it to such an extreme. It's safe to assume a large chunk of TheStreet's readership gets what I'm saying. Based on the data I see, we have a relatively affluent audience, highly concentrated in the nation's major metropolitan areas. So, maybe you live in this bubble and you can make sense of the intersecting ideas of urban vibrancy, regional/local prosperity and inequality. From there, you're looking at retail stocks. Where do you invest?