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While retail stocks are not as important as health care, technology or finance, they still punch above their weight. The stocks have now become so visible and so disturbing that Jim Cramer is worried.
"I would be kidding you if I said I wasn't worried. All I can say is, this group needs to snap out of its funk or the stocks will only get worse," the "Mad Money" host said.
The sudden decline in retail seemed almost untenable to Cramer. The idea that the sector could just be resting before its next move higher seemed like wishful thinking to him.
The first sign of trouble came when the momentum retailers stalled out or were caught in strong headwinds. Ulta Salon was one of the fastest growing retailers out there but fell 2 percent on Friday.
"In fact, (Dollar General) point blank cut prices on 400 products to stay ahead of a newly energized Wal-Mart. That's disastrous," Cramer said.
Discounters and close outs are the only group that Cramer believes in. His charitable trust just purchased TJX because it looks like a solid play going into the holidays and a place for Macy's to dispose of merchandise when it closes 100 stores.
Ultimately, retail must snap back, or Cramer fears that the entire stock market could only get worse. If positive news surfaces surrounding back to school season, it could reverse.
"Right now all I can hear when I think about retail is King Midas in reverse. That is not the direction you want if you believe that this market can go higher without first having a more pronounced decline, like we saw today," Cramer said.