Don't Believe September Same-Store Sales - TheStreet

NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- September is do or die for retailers.

Same-store sales for the month, due out on Thursday, will be a bellwether for the all-important holiday season.

Still, up against easy comparisons from last year -- and receiving a boost from the later Labor Day weekend -- the numbers are a double-edged sword for retailers: On one hand, the comparisons are so eminently beatable, retailers will likely get little credit from investors for surpassing them; on the other hand, should they miss expectations, even with all factors in their favor, the consequences could be severe.

Meanwhile, consumer confidence and unemployment data are hardly in line with a rebound in consumer spending -- and the market is well aware of it.

All things told, the International Council of Shopping Centers expects a 2% decline for the month -- and while this is better than the drops seen earlier in the year, it would still mark the 25th consecutive month of same-store sales decrease.

And as for individual concerns, the winners of the month will likely be those that offer merchandise at moderate prices, such as

Aeropostale

(ARO)

,

Kohl's

(KSS) - Get Report

,

Ross Stores

(ROST) - Get Report

and

TJX

(TJX) - Get Report

, Stifel Nicolaus analyst Richard Jaffe wrote in a note.

Aeropostale is expected to report a 12.2% spike in its same-store sales, but J.P. Morgan analyst Brain Tunick warns that the company's stock is close to fully valued at the current levels.

TJX is forecast to increase 4.1%, led up by its Marmaxx division, while Ross Stores is expected to grow 7.2%, due to its fresher merchandise and share gains from the liquidation of Mervyn's.

Gap

(GPS) - Get Report

should also continue to show improvement, as it improves its merchandise and sees the beginning stages of a turnaround at its Old Navy chain. Analysts predict comparable sales will be off slightly, 0.4%.

Target's

(TGT) - Get Report

improved trends in August should carry over into September, UBS Roxanne Meyer wrote in a research note. Analysts expect the discounter to post a 2% slip in same-store sales.

Eyes will be keenly focused on the performance of apparel and home at the retailer, since these are the two sectors that have been struggling the most.

Zumiez

(ZUMZ) - Get Report

, a name generally not discussed much in the space, will likely serve as a good barometer for deciphering the pull of the first two weeks of the month in comparison to the end of the month.

The skate-and-surf inspired clothing company reported a 29% surge in same-store sales for the first two weeks of the month. Weeks three and four likely returned to a double-digit comp decline trend, J.P. Morgan analyst Brian Tunick wrote in a note.

Once again,

Abercrombie & Fitch

(ANF) - Get Report

is expected to be the biggest loser. Analysts expect comparable sales at the teen retailer to plunge 20.8%, despite big discounts like the 20% Friends with Benefits promotion at Hollister featured during the month.

J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

has already said that it expects comparable sales to decline between 3% and 6% for the month. Analysts are calling for a 3.5% dip.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York

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