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Cramer figures out what Macy's and Kohl's don't understand about retail's vicious implosion

Jim Cramer's parents both worked in retail, so when he heard the news of Macy's and Kohl's dismal holiday sales, he had to get to the bottom of what is really ailing the retail group.

"It's not that the mall is dead. It's that the mall's rent is too expensive for all but the most exclusive specialty retailers that can make money selling goods at nosebleed price points," the "Mad Money" host said.

In the old days, Cramer's mom worked at Lit Brothers selling lingerie, and his father worked at Gimbels selling men's slacks. They used to marvel at how quickly a small retailer would go under when it would get steamrolled by the expansion of big players like Woolworth's, Grant's and K-Mart.

The same vicious cycle continues to happen in retail today, he said.





About 82 percent of millennials said they actually prefer brick-and-mortar shopping, according to consulting firm Accenture.
Paul J. Richards | AFP | Getty Images
About 82 percent of millennials said they actually prefer brick-and-mortar shopping, according to consulting firm Accenture.
"It's not that the mall is dead. It's that the mall's rent is too expensive for all but the most exclusive specialty retailers that can make money selling goods at nosebleed price points." -Jim Cramer

Wal-Mart and Target are now the ones trying to stay relevant among fierce competition from online shopping.

So, when it came to Macy's and Kohl's, Cramer wondered what the point of their existence even was. He would rather just go to Amazon or the boutique stores in the mall that cost a fortune, but can help him pick out something nice for his wife.

"Macy's is the third-largest online seller in its categories after Amazon and Wal-Mart, but that doesn't pay the rent," Cramer said.

There is still room for ultra-specialty retailers, but that is only because the elite one-percent has to shop somewhere, he said. They won't dish $10,000 for a pair of earrings without seeing them in person.

Mass merchandise, even the higher-end kind from Saks or Nordstrom, on the other hand, doesn't cut it. If a shopper knows their size, they can just buy the item online or from Amazon.

"Everyone is too cheap to shop at the mall. It's just too inconvenient unless you are uber-wealthy and need to see the ultra-luxury wares in person before buying them," Cramer said.

And if Macy's and Kohl's haven't figured that out yet, Cramer fears there just might not be a solution.


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