ICSC-Goldman Store Sales Index, published by the International Council of Shopping Centers, is a weekly measure of comparable store or nominal store sales at major retails chains excluding restaurant and vehicle demand. The ICSC-Goldman index was formerly known as ICSC-UBS prior to Goldman Sachs' involvement with ICSC in 2008. This index is related to the general merchandise portion of retail sales, which accounts for approximately 10% of total retail sales. Data in the report includes year-over-year and week-over-week changes in store sales.
The weekly index is measured using sales-weighted geometric average growth rates. Geometric average is used in the derivation as to maintain long-term consistency. The index is also statistically bench marked against a broad-based monthly retail industry sales aggregate, compiled by ICSC, of about 80 retail chain stores. Major retailers like Macy's (M), Kohl's and J.C. Penney (JCP) are used as a control group to extrapolate the weekly sales index. Hence, the index is representative of the industry sales instead of being just a sum of sales for a handful of retailers.
The ICSC-Goldman index is considered one of the more timely indicators for consumer spending as it is reported every week. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of the economy, therefore it is indicative of the general health of the economy. Consumers’ spending pattern is the primary influence on stock and bond markets. Strong economic growth means healthy corporate profits and rising stock prices. As for the bond markets, the concern is more of whether the economy is heating and leads to inflation. During the nineties, the economy achieved the balance between strong growth and excessive (inflationary) growth and investors in both the stock and bond markets enjoyed the bull market for a period of time. However, spending at major retail chains slowed down during the dot-com bust in 2001 and the credit crunch and financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. This index generally receives extra attention around the holiday season because that’s the time when retailers generate most of their revenues. On top of that, it is also a useful indicator when special events happen and can cause economic activity to momentarily slide. For example, the index was widely watched in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.