The consumer might be cash-strapped, but Jim Cramer says it doesn't even matter. The earnings of Dollar General, Dollar Tree, TJX and Wal-Mart have all made the statement to him that the American people just don't like to spend much money on merchandise anymore.
The cost of rent and health care has skyrocketed, so that the average income that a family needs to spend out for these costs has increased dramatically.
Cramer attributed the rising cost of rent to the Great Recession, as credit has become too hard to come by for people. Thus, young families began to either stay at home with their parents or rent.
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"Everyone knows that the cost of renting has gone sky-high, to the point where it has become more affordable to just buy a home. That is, as long as you can find a bank that is willing to give you a mortgage," Cramer said.
At the same time, health care costs have risen in the wake of the Affordable Care Act, and HMOs have raised their premiums.
Ultimately the average household is spending more of its money on rent and heath care premiums, which has canceled out huge savings from lower gasoline prices. These costs, coupled with stagnant wages triggered by globalization, digitalization, automation and a general surfeit of labor are getting lost.
"None of these facts is really captured by the broader figures, but they are a reality for tens of millions of Americans," Cramer said.
That is why the plays of frugality are the winners in retail, and their stock prices are now reflecting those wins. Consumers have resorted to the bargains at Dollar Tree and Dollar General. Cramer anticipates that a market-wide pullback will occur, which will allow investors to buy the stocks at better prices.
"I just wish the Wall Street snobs would visit these dollar stores so they would understand how much better they are than they used to be," Cramer said.