The volume of album sales in France this January rose 0.4% at retail compared with the same period last year, according to a new report.

Units sold during the month increased to 5.263 million, while the value of album sales dropped 5.7% to €69.2 million ($102 million), claims the study issued by research firm Gfk and government-backed Observatoire de la Musique. The albums format represents 92.7% ($137 million) of all units sold during the month.

Overall, the study found that the French market dropped 5.4% in volume and 7.2% in value year-on-year in January.

This is the first year Observatoire de la Musique/Gfk has published a monthly indicator, explains André Nicolas, manager of the Observatoire de la Musique, a music business research body operating under the umbrella of the French ministry of culture.

Hervé Rony, director general of labels trade body Snep, which publishes its own quarterly market figures, tells the industry won't get too carried away with positive swing for albums. "Monthly figures don't mean much, which is why Snep stopped publishing monthly figures ten years ago," he says.

The best seller in January 2008 was the NRJ Music Awards 2008 compilation (Sony BMG), which sold 60,100 units with an average price of €19.80 ($29).

The singles format continued to slip away in the first month, down 45.3% in volume compared with January 2007, notes the survey.