Hot British alternative rock act Arctic Monkeys are poised to set an industry benchmark after retailers reported explosive first week sales for their debut album. The album is expected to be a distant

Hot British alternative rock act Arctic Monkeys are poised to set an industry benchmark after retailers reported explosive first week sales for their debut album.

Retail sources say the Sheffield, England act's "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" (Domino) pegged more than 120,00 sales on Monday (Jan. 23) alone, its opening day of release. The album is expected to be a distant No. 1 when the weekly Official U.K. Albums chart is published Sunday (Jan. 29).

Domino head Laurence Bell tells Billboard.biz the album shipped more than 350,000 units ahead of release. Executives at market-leading specialist music retailer HMV Group suggest demand for the album could outstrip the supply, based on the chain's own sales and Official U.K. Charts Company data.

That would make it the fastest-selling debut album in U.K. chart history, ahead of reality TV show-spawned pop act Hear'Say's "Popstars" (Polydor, 2001), which the OCC says sold 306,631 units in its first week. In Britain, platinum certification is awarded to albums which have shipped 300,000 units.

The band is currently at No. 1 on the Official U.K. Singles chart with "When the Sun Goes Down," a feat they matched with previous track "I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor."

"It's been a word of mouth phenomenon that none of us have really seen in music," Bell tells Billboard.biz. "I'm not sure there's anything we can compare it to. It's completely unprecedented."

The sales achievement is likely to far outperform debut albums from now-established rock acts. Oasis' August 1994 release "Definitely Maybe" (Creation) sold 55,854 in its first week, while Coldplay's July 2000 release "Parachutes" (Parlophone) shifted 70,000 units in their respective first weeks on sale, according to OCC data.

Arctic Monkeys Domino labelmates Franz Ferdinand's eponymous debut sold 75,457 units after its February 2004 U.K. release.

London-based HMV head of music Phil Penman says the buzz surrounding "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" could push sales to grand heights. "They're well on their way to having the first million selling album of 2006," he comments.

Oasis "Be Here Now," holds the record for the fastest-selling album of all time in Britain, since records began. The album shifted 655,000 copies in its week of release in August 1997.

The OCC, a joint-venture of labels body the British Phonographic Assn. and retail trade group the British Assn. of Record Dealers, has published over-the-counter album sales data since 1994.

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