Faced with what it called an uncertain economic environment and difficult comparisons to 2007 when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and The Secret set sales record, Barnes & Noble said yesterday it expects same store sales to be “slightly positive” for the year. In 2007, comp sales rose 1.8% for the year. B&N said it is expecting a “challenging retail year,” and noted that its post-holiday sales trend, when business trailed off, continued into the first quarter of 2008. Same store sales in last year’s final quarter fell 0.5%.

For all of 2007, sales rose 2.8%, to $5.41 billion, while fourth quarter sales dipped 1.7%, to $1.85 billion. Sales in 2006 included an extra week. Excluding the extra week, store sales rose 4.3% for the year, to $4.65 billion, while sales through Barnes & Noble.com increased 13.4%, to $477 million. Fourth quarter store sales were up 2.8% and online sales rose 13.1%.

Given the difficult current retail environment, B&N said it “is focusing its efforts on managing its expenses and working capital with a realistic view of market conditions. as well as continuing to refine its marketing strategies and grow the Member program to maximize top line growth profitability.”