Cramer sees a major shift in retail, consumer economy

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Jim Cramer said Friday he sees a major shift taking place in the economy that will make investors think twice about which retail stocks to buy and sell.

Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick told the "Mad Money" host Thursday that video games are one factor that's contributing to a big change in people's behavior. That change, Cramer says, begs the question of why people would want to go to a live sports event or Wrestlemania when they can just stay home and play NBA 2K, Madden or WWE 2K?

Nowadays, he says, its hard to figure out how much to pay for retail stocks because of the new "stay-at-home economy." Starbucks, for example, has carved out a reputation as the "third place," Cramer says, meaning it's the place that people go to between work and home to enjoy themselves. But what happens when people don't need a "third place" to go anymore because they're staying home?

You may not be able to order Starbucks coffee online, but only a handful of retailers are unique that way. Cramer says that on the conference call for Starbucks, founder and CEO Howard Schultz talked about how actual foot traffic is diminishing because of Amazon and the effects of e-commerce. That's a factor that retail companies do depend on for sales and growth.

"The stock market is like a supermarket and big investors are going to want to pass up on the aisle of the consumer who goes out and instead focus on other aisles," Cramer said. "At least until the stock gets so cheap that the numbers it reported today seem like a blessing."

That doesn't necessarily mean that a stock like Starbucks should get hit, Cramer says. It does mean, he says, that people will, increasingly, want to avoid stocks that require consumers to go out and buy things. Cramer thinks they will circle around the stocks of companies that benefit from the tail wind of the stay-at-home economy, rather than buy the companies that are fighting against the consumer's desire to never leave the house.

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