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Retail’s Demise Greatly Exaggerated

Remember all the talk of what was supposed to be a terrible holiday shopping season? How stores would be empty as dead-broke consumers pinched every last penny they had to survive the recession? How the historically strong fourth quarter was going to be anything but? Well, we just finished a week filled with earnings reports that proved the exact opposite was true.

“Turns out the fourth quarter was magnificent for retailers,” Cramer said Friday, “and the pessimists who said Christmas was cancelled turned out to be grinches who stole from you, shareholders.”

And that was Cramer’s biggest gripe: Yet again negative headlines may have kept investors from taking part in the sector’s strong performance. Just this week Deckersand Gap alone proved how well the retailers planned for the downturn and then executed so flawlessly as to deliver, in the former’s case, a 94-cent earnings beat and, in the latter’s case, an outlook so good that management increased the dividend. (Cramer’s only problem with Gap seemed to be its focus on share buybacks rather than returning still more money to shareholders.)

Similar strength could be seen in everyone from Home Depot to Sears and Macy’s to Saks . Heck, even high-end jeans maker True Religion put up great numbers.

But will the naysayers come clean? Will they be held accountable for scaring investors away from these stocks? No, Cramer said, they’re probably already planning to say Christmas 2010 will never match the stellar season we just had.

But “I think they owe us an explanation,” he said.

Cramer's charitable trust owns Home Depot.

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