The Art of Shopping with Jim Cramer

"Talk about being too negative. I have to tell you that I was one of many people who were too negative about all of retail coming out of the holiday season," said Cramer.

The resilient shopper has managed to dazzle once again. Across 17 retailers, December sales at stores open at least a year increased by 4.5 percent, beating estimates for 3.3 percent growth.

Here are Jim Cramer's takeaways:

"Nordstrom reported a standout quarter and clearly qualifies as best of breed among the publicly traded department stores," Cramer said.

However, the trend was hardly limited to the high end.

"Ross Stores and Target, two companies where the great middle class shops, were expected to miss their quarters. Wrong. They both came back strong," said Cramer.

In fact the trend seems to be widespread.

"TJX and Costco continued to amaze with their consistent reporting and that's purely a story of tremendous managements," said Cramer.

Yuri Arcurs | Photographer's Choice RF | Getty Images

"And Gap, one of my absolute favorite retailers, issued some terrific numbers and made a fantastic acquisition of Intermix, a smart, fashionable company, to complement its other brands, including Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Athletica."

I suspect that Intermix will do its best to keep its distinctly non-Gap identity. While the stock was down this morning, it turned around and rebounded nicely this afternoon. It's the stock I like the best after these terrific numbers, and I think it's a buy even after Thursday's bounce."

Of course Cramer always recommends playing retail on a case by case basis – and he said some retailers look more like a basket case than anything else.

"We are seeing the wholesale destruction of the formerly beloved dollar store segment, with hideous price action in Family Dollar as well as Dollar Tree and Dollar General. All have expressed concerns."

If you're a discount shopper looking for a bargain – Cramer says resist temptation.

"I caution you not to bottom-fish in this group, if only because the 2% payroll tax cut ended December 31st and the dollar stores will be hurt the most by that change."

Call Cramer: 1-800-743-CNBC

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