Shipments of CD albums in the U.K. shot up 5.6% during 2003 to 234 million units, according to figures from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

Shipments of CD albums in the U.K. shot up 5.6% during 2003 to 234 million units, according to figures from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). The value of shipments rose 2.3% from 2002's total to £1.103 billion ($2.034 billion). The growth is attributed to new artists such as the Darkness, Will Young and Busted, and to falling retail prices.

The BPI says total album shipments grew 4.9% to 236 million units and 2.1% to £1.112 billion ($2.050 billion).

The organization also calculated that while global sales of recorded music slumped by 18% between 1998 and 2002, the U.K. market reported a 6% value growth during the period.

But the BPI could not deny the negative impact of illegal downloads, especially in the singles sector. Shipments of singles in 2003 fell 30.7% to 36.4 million units and 33.6% to £64.4 million ($118.8 million).