Cramer: Quiet developments demand attention

(Click for video linked to a searchable transcript of this Mad Money segment)

There were a few big surprises in the market this week and Cramer doesn't think they're getting nearly the attention they deserve.

"One big surprise this week has to be the car sales story," Cramer said. Nearly all automakers on Wednesday reported double-digit sales gains as August shaped up to be a very strong month.

That alone was enough to make the Mad Money host sit up and take notice. But that's not all there was.

"We also got still one more great number from a retailer skewed to hard goods—this time Costco," Cramer added. Same-store sales beat estimates with sales at stores open at least a year rising 4%.

The Mad Money host believes these two data points confirm what similar developments had already suggested to him. "I believe the consumer is spending but just not on apparel."

And that Cramer says is a development that demands attention.

Elizabeth Knox | Stone | Getty Images

"I can only conclude that these strong numbers are a sign that we have simply misjudged pent-up demand," he said.

Cramer now believes somewhat weak numbers from apparel makers in August were a stealth 'positive' – that is, they were a sign that Americans were choosing to buy more expensive items such as furniture or appliances– and therefore they bought less clothing to somewhat counterbalance the big purchase.

And whether Americans think the economy has started to turn a corner or whether they're simply tired of living with old 'stuff'– Cramer says there's every reason to believe the trend continues.

And that, he says, is meaningful for investors.

Read more from Mad Money with Jim Cramer
Cramer: Compelling mosaic beneath market
Winners already, Cramer sees even more upside
Cramer's terrific stock in terrific tech

If the consumer is not retrenching but instead rotating into more expensive items, then the retail sector as a whole could rally, again.

And if the sector rallies – it could lead the whole market higher.

"I think this is the missing piece of the puzzle," Cramer said. "I'd watch the trend closely. It could well determine the next leg of this market.".

Call Cramer: 1-800-743-CNBC

Questions for Cramer?

Questions, comments, suggestions for the "Mad Money" website?