U.K. album sales declined by 3.5% in volume to 128.9 million in 2009, according to new data from the Official Charts Company.

Trade body the BPI said the 3.5% year-on-year decline was not as sharp as it could have been thanks to a strong release schedule from artists including Susan Boyle, Lady Gaga, Michael Buble, Black Eyed Peas, JLS, Robbie Williams and Paolo Nutini, as well as continuing investment in new digital services. Digital albums now account for 12.5% of the entire albums market - a total of 16.1 million albums.

As previously reported (Billboard.biz, Jan. 4), Susan Boyle had the biggest seller of 2009 with "I Dreamed a Dream" (Syco/Sony Music Entertainment) moving 1.5 million copies in six weeks.

U.K singles sales increased by 32.7% in volume in 2009 compared to the previous year - 152.7 million compared to 2008's total of 115.1 million. During 2009, 98% of singles were sold in digital formats.

"As the way in which consumers find and purchase music continues to evolve, it is vital that music companies can continue to invest in new artists and support new digital services," said BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor in a statement. "Meaningful action to tackle online piracy is more critical than ever before. Without it, investment in new services and new music will be stifled.

"Despite difficult trading conditions and the ever-present competition from illegal downloading, U.K. music sales remained relatively resilient during 2009. While sales of physical CDs continue to trend downwards, music fans are clearly responding to the explosive growth of digital retailers and outlets selling and streaming music in the U.K. - 2009's record singles result is clearly encouraging."

Kim Bayley, director general of the Entertainment Retailers Association, added: "2009 started on a low note after the collapse of [mass merchant] Woolworths and [entertainment retailer] Zavvi, but entertainment retailers across the board worked with their suppliers to end the year with a far better result than anyone had expected. We are particularly pleased at the progress made by digital and Internet retailers. The key to maintaining momentum in 2010 will be to maintain a flow of innovative and compelling product to the consumer."

The BPI has not yet issued data for value from music sales in 2009.