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Cramer: Amazon sales could be the consumer's zero-sum game

Consumers are driving Jim Cramer crazy.

The market was thrown for a loop on Thursday when Ford Motor Company confirmed in its earnings report that the consumer is stalling, and so is the auto cycle. Ford stock fell by more than 8 percent in response.

"You lose the auto industry, you're losing a major prop to the economy," the "Mad Money" host said.

However, retail told a much different story about the American consumer when Amazon reported. The online giant reported a 31 percent increase in sales and blew away earnings.

"Those sales are coming out of the hides of other, more traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, and it might just be pretty much a zero-sum game," Cramer said.





Amazon's website
Indranil Bhoumik | Mint | Getty Images
Amazon's website
"The inconsistency is maddening, and that is why you can have such incredibly inconsistency in the stock market itself." -Jim Cramer

Overall mall traffic might be down, but it was clear to Cramer that the consumer has become very bargain conscious. This explains the rally in stocks like Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Ross Stores and TJX.

Or perhaps the consumer is just spending differently? Cramer was shocked by the strength Universal Theme Parks, owned by Comcast, which were extraordinarily strong.

"The inconsistency is maddening, and that is why you can have such incredible inconsistency in the stock market itself," Cramer said.

He found the same dichotomy in the supermarkets. Whole Foods reported a disappointing quarter, with same-store sales dropping 2.6 percent. Usually that would indicate that the consumer isn't spending.

But on its conference call Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey discussed the company slowing the expansion of new stores to avoid cannibalization. It also has seen increased competition from Wegmans and Kroger, which indicated to Cramer that perhaps people are just shopping somewhere else.

Ultimately it is too hard for Cramer to get the pulse of the consumer, and it seems the averages are also having difficulty.

"Without a strong consumer, this market simply won't be able to sustain these heights, but if the consumer is still spending, just at different places, than the averages could still go higher," Cramer said.

He anticipates that stocks will continue to bounce back and forth until investors figure out if the consumer is strong or weak. Until then, there is no place in between.

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.

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