Sales of CDs slump by 8 per cent in first half

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The Independent Online

Sales of CDs slumped by 8 per cent in the UK in the first half of the year but strong growth in legally downloaded music helped offset some of the decline.

The collapse in CD and DVD sales on the UK high street has come into focus after music chain Fopp closed its 81 outlets last week. Retailers such as HMV and Virgin have come under intense pressure from low-cost online competitors as well as illegal downloading of music.

However, the overall decline in CD sales was not quite as dramatic as the music retailers' woes suggest. The latest data from the BPI, the UK music industry trade body, showed that 60 million albums were sold in the first half of the year, down from 65 million in the same period in 2006. Nearly 97 per cent of those albums were sold as CDs.

Geoff Taylor, the BPI chief executive, said: "CDs remain very attractive to consumers because of the flexibility and outstanding value for money they offer, and for this reason they represent the overwhelming majority of sales. Consumers vote with their pay packets and 58 million CD album sales in just six months is a very significant number indeed."

The UK market for CDs is holding up better than other markets such as the US, helped by strong sales of UK artists such as Amy Winehouse and the Kaiser Chiefs. The BPI said that UK music fans buy more CDs per capita than anywhere else in the world, with the UK market accounting for more than 150 million sales for four years running.

The BPI also said the UK was "ahead of the curve" in terms of legally downloaded music, with digital album sales partially offsetting the decline in physical sales. It said that 2.1 million albums were downloaded in the first half, with more than 100,000 sales a week achieved during June. Digital sales have also breathed life into the flagging singles market, helping to drive a 23 per cent increase in single sales in the first half of the year.