Downloads on upswing in U.K.

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Bumper holiday season activity helped U.K. download sales in 2007 rise by almost half over the previous year, according to figures issued Wednesday by the British Phonographic Industry.

Total download sales for the year reached 77.6 million, the trade group reported, up 47.7% over 2006.

More than 2.9 million downloads were registered in the last week of 2007, the largest single-week figure recorded in the U.K. The performance was slightly more than double the corresponding 52nd-week download figure in 2006, which registered 1.47 million units.

In the week leading up to Christmas, more than 1.93 million download sales were registered, up from 1.33 million in the corresponding week in 2006.

The figures were based on data gathered by charts compiler the Official U.K. Charts Co., which is jointly owned by the BPI and its retail counterpart, the Entertainment Retailers Assn.

"Recent years have seen a boost in download sales in the week after Christmas, but this was a larger increase than expected, and sales should continue to grow throughout 2008," a BPI spokesman said.

The popularity of digital music devices as Christmas presents was one of the key factors driving demand for downloads over the late-December period, according to the BPI.

In the U.K., the CD remains king of the albums format. Physical sound carriers still account for about 95% of sales. Lars Brandle is global news editor at Billboard.
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