The British music retail trade association has welcomed new findings which indicate Britons buy more CDs than any other country, and are bigger consumers of legal downloads than any of their European neighbors.

For the fifth successive year, Britons led the CD per capita league table in 2007, buying 2.3 CDs on average, according to the IFPI statistics. Norway was second on 1.99 followed by the United States at 1.7.

British downloaders spent $169.5 million on digital music in 2007, nearly double the figure of Germany, and more than twice the sum of the French market, according to the figures, unveiled Thursday at the annual Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) New Music Conference at London's Earls Court.

"We hear much about the consumer somehow falling out of love with music, but here is proof positive that the U.K. is a nation of music lovers," comments ERA chairman Paul Quirk. "It is also testament to the strength and variety of music retailing in the U.K. - from specialist independents through to the High Street giants and supermarkets, the UK offers more and better music retailing than anywhere else in the world."

Market-by-market retail trends are analysed in the new IFPI handbook, the "Recording Industry In Numbers," distributed this week.