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Financial commentator James Cramer, on speculates on what will be impacted when the price of gasoline hits $5 per gallon.

On the retail side, he writes, the effects can be seen when you go to a Dick’s Sporting Goods: “There isn't anything at Dick's that isn't sold cheaper -- although not necessarily better – at Wal-Mart. Dick's sells expensive sporting goods. You buy this stuff for your kids. They outgrow the stuff. They abuse the stuff. You are not going to go to Dick's to buy the more expensive version of something that's cheaper.”

The same goes for food, Cramer writes, saying that people increasingly will shop at the likes of Wal-Mart, Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club for the same “foodstuffs that you would have bought at a Supervalu or a Safeway.”

Cramer concludes: “You get in your car that gets the best gas mileage or you buy a new one that does … and you either buy in bulk at Costco/BJ's or go to Wal-Mart. That's what the soon-to-be-$5 gasoline is going to do.”

KC's View:
The only thing I would question about Cramer’s hypothesis is that he pegs it to $5/gallon gasoline.

For one thing, I think this already is happening, and much of the country is just approaching $4/gallon gasoline.

Furthermore, all the evidence suggests that it won’t take long for $4 and $5 gasoline to be but a fond memory. Here in Connecticut, we blew past $4 with nary a pause. Betcha we hit $5 by the 4th of July. And then we’ll hit $6….$7….$8.

And the rest of the country won’t be far behind.

Of course, gasoline costs more than that in much of Europe, but they have an infrastructure and culture based on walking, bicycles, mass transit that make cars less critical to everyday life. Not here in the US, where the pain is going to be significant and people are going to be looking at how to make big changes in how they live.