This week multiple retailers from the Standard & Poor's 500, including Macy's Inc., will report earnings, kicking off the final leg of the first-quarter earnings season. Economists view retail sales as a key economic indicator since consumer spending accounts for nearly two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

A steep drop in gasoline prices across the country was expected to boost retailers, especially those that cater to middle- to low-income consumers. But Americans have remained somewhat cautious on spending despite cheaper gasoline and rising confidence.

"So far, lower fuel prices haven’t been spent by consumers. It’s going directly to savings," said Eric Wiegand, senior portfolio manager at the Private Client Reserve at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. "With improved consumer confidence, weather and labor conditions, we ultimately want to see how that manifests with consumers and if they begin spending more this spring."

For the January to March quarter, analysts forecast retailers from the S&P 500 to report earnings per share growth of 9.5 percent and revenue growth of 4.2 percent, according to research firm Estimize. With 449 S&P 500 companies reporting ahead of this week, 54 percent have beaten the consensus estimates while 36 percent have missed and 9 percent have come in line with forecasts, Estimize said in a research note this week. 

Here’s a deeper look at retailers reporting this week: 

Macy's

Macy's Inc. (NYSE:M) reports its latest quarterly results Wednesday before U.S. financial markets open. The department store group, which also owns the high-end Bloomingdale's chain, posted a weaker-than-expected rise in sales during the holiday quarter and forecast full-year profit and revenue below analysts’ expectations as the company prepares to invest in international locations.

Macy’s announced in October it plans to open its first Macy's department store and its second Bloomingdale's outside the U.S. in a shopping center being built in the United Arab Emirates capital, Abu Dhabi. The mall is expected to open in the spring of 2018.

Wall Street expects Macy's to report first-quarter net income of $212.05 million, or earnings per share of 64 cents, on revenue of $6.32 billion, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. That compares with a profit of $224 million, or 60 cents per share, on sales of $6.28 billion a year ago.

Shares of Macy's, which are currently trading around $65, have dipped 0.6 percent so far this year. 

J C Penney

After the closing bell Wednesday, struggling retailer J C Penney Company Inc. (NYSE:JCP) will issue its latest quarterly results. Despite missing earnings forecasts during the October-December quarter, the Plano, Texas, department store chain saw its revenue rise 3 percent, driven by strong holiday sales for household goods and apparel.

J C Penney is forecast to turn in first-quarter loss of $233.03 million, or earnings per share loss of 75 cents, on revenue of $2.85 billion, compared with a loss of $352 million, or earnings per share loss of $1.15 cents, on sales of $2.8 billion a year ago.

Shares of J C Penney, which are no longer listed in the S&P 500 index, have gained slightly more than 38 percent since January and are trading around $9.

Kohl's

Kohl's Corporation (NYSE:KSS) will turn in quarterly results ahead of the opening bell Thursday after the department store beat estimates in the previous quarter, driven by a boost in demand for apparel and accessories during the holiday shopping season.

The Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, company forecasts comparable store sales to rise by 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent this year after declining 0.3 percent in the prior year.

Kohl's is projected to report first-quarter net income of $112.29 million, or earnings per share of 56 cents, on revenue of $4.19 billion, compared with a profit of $125 million, or 60 cents per share, on sales of $4.07 billion a year ago.

Shares of Kohl's, which are trading around $74, have jumped nearly 22 percent this year. 

Nordstrom

Upscale department store Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE:JWN) will post earnings after the U.S. markets close Thursday. Nordstrom turned in a lower-than-expected quarterly profit during the holidays as it increased discounts at its Rack brand stores during the holiday shopping season.

The Seattle company also projected a bigger loss for its Canadian business in 2015, which is expected to widen to about $60 million in 2015 from $32 million in 2014. Nordstrom will continue to expand in Canada this year, with store openings in Ottawa in the spring and Vancouver in the fall.

Analysts expect Nordstrom to deliver first-quarter net income of $136.65 million, or earnings per share of 72 cents, on revenue of $3.09 billion, compared with a profit of $140 million, or earnings per share of 72 cents, on sales of $2.84 billion a year ago. 

Shares of Nordstrom have lost nearly 3 percent so far this year and are trading around $77.