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NRF CEO: We are in an "either/or" economy

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In an interview today on CNBC, National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay shared an update on the current state of consumer confidence, the economy, and the impact both are having on back-to-school and college spending.

During the segment, Shay noted that retailers are witnessing an "either/or" economy where many consumers are choosing big ticket items or choosing discretionary items but not both: “We’re seeing a cautious consumer making thoughtful decisions."

The latest update to NRF's Back-to-School and College Survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics found that consumers are maintaining their budgets by spreading out their spending, which is evident given the historic level of early-bird shopping this summer. According to the survey, the average family with children in grades K-12 has completed 52 percent of their shopping, while college shoppers have completed 49 percent.

Although almost seven in 10 Americans say that the economy is impacting their school and college spending, Shay notes that retail sales still appear positive and retailers are optimistic about a stronger second half of the year.

Watch Shay’s full interview with CNBC below. For more information on back-to-school and college sales and trends, visit NRF’s Back-to-School Headquarters.