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Sometimes developments are so contradictory that even Jim Cramer throws his hands up in frustration.
Take, for example, the latest developments involving Express. The specialty retailer forecast a weaker-than-expected holiday quarter due to muted Thanksgiving sales and a highly promotional environment.
"Say it ain't so!" Cramer exclaimed. "This turn of retail events is shocking to me. I had come to think of Express as that consistent, excellent mid-range player with the best duds for younger professionals. "
In other words, since , absolutely any company in retail could falter too. And Cramer doesn't like to own the stocks of companies that falter.
"For me, Express' quarter is a remarkable affirmation of just how impossible it is to invest in the retail sector right now, because the group has become so inconsistent as to be unfathomable."
As another example, Cramer pointed to Ascena, the parent of Dress Barn, Maurices and Justice. Cramer said results have been hit or miss however, "on Monday Ascena reported a fabulous quarter and while things aren't perfect, the stock is now up almost as much as Express is down."
Cramer believes Ross Stores is a similar story. The chain had been hot but lately "it seems they carry wrong merchandise."
In fact, he thinks the landscape is changing so rapidly that companies can go from hot to cold or vice versa, in the space of weeks.
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"JC Penney was bad in October, now it's good in November. Gap was bad last month and now it was good this month. "
How can an investor anticipate something like that?
And the phenomenon isn't just limited to apparel. Cramer sees it underway in other corners of the retail sector, too .
Considering retail has become a landscape littered with unknowns, Cramer isn't sure it's the best place to put money to work. At least not right now.
"Perhaps the best thing to do is to just stay away until we get some clarity," Cramer said. "That is if there's any clarity to be had. "
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