NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Abandon any hope for summer splurging as this season's biggest retail trends may include saving scraps of tin foil and dancing for nickels, according to consumer confidence reports.Consumer Reports, American Express ( AXP) and such retailers as Home Depot ( HD), Lowe's ( LOW), Nordstrom ( JWN) and Saks ( SKS) indicated this would be the summer of the spendthrift. Those forecasts faded like a tan during an overcast vacation week as consumer confidence evaporated and retail sales swooned. Today's announcement that the Consumer Confidence Index for July fell 3.9 points to 50.4 after a 9.8-point collapse in June was just the latest grain of sand added to a shoreline's worth of summer spending concerns. The season kicked off with the Commerce Department reporting a 1.2% drop in retail spending in May that included cuts in clothing, car and building-supply purchases. The Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment shrugged off the loss at the time, noting a 1.4-point uptick in its main indicator and 2.3-point gain in consumer expectations and predicting "financial gains among upper-income households will continue to foster growth in overall consumer spending." Then came a 0.5% retail dropoff in June and its concurrent freefall in consumer confidence. Again, however, consumer sentiment rose 2.4 points and expectations were rosier, despite Reuters and the University of Michigan forecasting slowing growth into the start of next year. A month later, those sentiment numbers would plunge to lows not seen since August 2009. So where did that consumer confidence go? Where are the shoppers American Express' Spending and Savings Tracker surveyed who said they planned to spend 63% more on summer outings and 44% more on apparel? Why didn't the 14% increase in spending Consumer Reports saw among its shoppers this month translate to an empowered buyer base? Reality is getting in the way.
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