Consumer spending and credit retain low levels

Consumer spending and credit retain low levels. Retailers across the country are feeling a bit of a pinch as national consumer spending and credit conditions remain tight.

Despite the slowly-improving economic climate, consumers remain cautious with their money and that’s having a negative impact on retailers nationwide, Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, told CNBC.

"I think what we are seeing … is continuing discomfort with the number of fundamental questions about our economy that remain unanswered, primarily among those is when are we going to see robust, and sustained job creation, and when are we going to see the restoration of the free flow of capital, and credit, to small businesses and investors," he told the network.

Consumer spending makes up about 70 percent of all economic activity in the U.S. and the retail sector makes up about one in five jobs nationwide, Shay told CNBC. Retail stocks have been trending lower in May and June, trading 20 percent below highs set in April.

However, a recent Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan study found that consumer confidence was 1.7 percent higher in May than April, and up 7.1 percent over the same month last year.