What is 'ICSC-UBS Store Sales'

ICSC-UBS Store Sales was the previous name of ICSC-Goldman Store Sales, a weekly economic report published by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs that measured comparable store sales at major U.S. retail chains. The report measured the portion of retail sales attributed to general merchandise, or about 10 percent of all sales.

Because consumer spending typically accounts for about two-thirds of gross domestic product (GDP), patterns in retail sales can help predict, and sometimes move, stock and bond markets.

BREAKING DOWN 'ICSC-UBS Store Sales'

ICSC-UBS Store Sales changed to ICSC-Goldman Store Sales in 2008. The current report surveys mall-based chain retailers and big box stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and Macy’s. It does not track online sales.

Because the report only considers general merchandise, it excludes items found in a traditional supermarket such as groceries, household supplies, pet food and other consumable items.

The report is useful in judging how much consumers are spending on non-essentials like fashion clothing and housewares. If the report shows an increase in such spending, it reflects greater consumer confidence.

The data collected to compile the report only represent U.S. store sales. Therefore, the report is not as useful for analyzing the performance of specific retailers, most of which have a global presence. Also, the report doesn't provide any indication of international consumer spending habits.

While the actual methodology is proprietary, the report employs a statistical formula known as geometric weighting, which attempts to account for repeated values.

The report measures both year-over-year and week-over-week sales. The year-over-year data is presented both “raw” and seasonally adjusted to account for fluctuations in holiday dates, weather and other factors.

ICSC-Goldman Store Sales Provides a Weekly Economic Snapshot

The ICSC-Goldman index is published weekly, coming out every Tuesday, so it is a useful indicator for viewing economic activity during major events and holidays. For example, investors tracked the ICSC-Goldman Store Sales data closely after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Is Retail Too Hot, Too Cold, or Just Right?

Investors can use the ICSC-Goldman report in different ways depending on their holdings. For example, a spike in consumer spending often signifies a growing economy, which is good for company profits and growth. As such, stocks sometimes rise on retail growth reported in the ICSC-Goldman report.

On the other hand, excessive economic growth typically indicates a risk of inflation. Indeed one sign of inflation is when consumers start buying more now, on the belief that goods will cost more tomorrow. Inflation brings higher interest rates, which lowers the price of bonds.

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