Shipments rise, but retail revenues dip.

The French market's first-quarter sales showed a slight improvement over the same period in 2004, according to statistics unveiled this week by industry body SNEP.

SNEP released two sets of data, covering shipments and over-the-counter sales.

Shipments -- CDs sent and billed to retailers -- are up 5.8% in value at euros 223.6 million ($292.8 million) and up 16.3% in volume at 36.3 million units.

Volume of units sold was up 10.4% at 27.9 million, but revenues fell 8.4% to euros 310.7 million ($406.9 million). Over-the-counter sales figures are based on a sample of 1,000 stores and include retailers’ margin and value added tax.

SNEP director general Herve Rony says, “Apparently, France is following the international trend, with a slowing down of the erosion.”

“It’s better, but we’re not there yet,” adds SNEP president Gilles Bressand. “Consumers told us our prices were too high and they are now going down,” he says.

Rony cautions that increasing shipments and unit sales “create traffic in stores but not wealth.” He adds, “A drop in prices was anticipated, but we have to remain cautious because we are in a business where the creation of wealth depends on the success of a handful of titles, and margins are impacted.”