Shares of AutoZone (NYSE:AZO) suffered today as investors digested the word that its same-store sales have flagged, an off-and-on problem over the last several months. Is it time to put shares of the auto parts company up on blocks?

AutoZone said that same-store sales dropped 1% in the first seven weeks of its fiscal fourth quarter. Meanwhile, retail same-store sales dropped 3%. The theory is that the second-largest auto parts retailer, Advance Auto Parts (NYSE:AAP), may be gaining market share at AutoZone's expense. Meanwhile, Pep Boys (NYSE:PBY) and even Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) provide more competition in the "do-it-yourself" (DIY) market.

There are reasons that drops in AutoZone's share price could be seen as an opportunity. AutoZone has a history of returning value to shareholders and propping up profits even while sales growth decelerated. For example, Foolish contributor W.D. Crotty recently commented on how much he likes AutoZone's strong return on equity (ROE) among other aspects of the stock.

For my part, though, I have wondered about the current climate for a company like AutoZone. Back in December, I couldn't help but muse about whether an improving economic climate would make things harder for AutoZone, given more confident consumers' possible purchases of new cars that require far fewer repairs and upkeep than their old jalopies. (Not to mention, many dealers sweeten the deal by offering long power train warranties on new models.)

However, it's worth mentioning that according to AutoZone's regulatory filings, its sales historically tend to rev up in the summer months, between June and August, as DIY types take advantage of warm weather to tinker under their hoods. Although it doesn't bode well that June has evidently had such a sluggish start, summer's not over yet, and perhaps sales could warm up yet. However, if AutoZone can increase its sales to commercial outfits that fix cars, it could provide another growth engine for the stock.

Given the fact that the company's trading at 12 times forward earnings, as well as its historical focus on profits, AutoZone may sound very cheap. However, it may not be prudent to put the pedal to the metal just yet; sales trends could bear some careful watching before racing for shares of the auto parts provider.

Are you in the market for a new car, or do you have an older model that you maintain? Talk to other Fools about all things automotive on the Buying and Maintaining a Car discussion board.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The extent of her "do-it-yourself" capabilities with cars is replacing windshield wiper fluid and maybe checking the oil.