Until last year, the UK had outperformed the worldwide record market for the past five years. While major territories such as the USA, Germany and Japan saw sales decline, the UK had continued to show steady growth. In 2002 the value of UK music shipments dropped by 3.7%. The main reason for this was the continuing decline in singles sales which fell to 52.5m units, nearly 12% down on 2001.
Although single sales have shrunk by a third in the last five years they are now at similar levels to those of a decade ago. Album volumes held reasonably steady, just 0.1% down, but downward pressure on prices meant that value fell by 3%.
Factors adversely affecting the market included intense competition from other areas of the entertainment sector, i.e. computer games and DVDs, increasing economic uncertainty which affected high street spending in the Christmas period and the ongoing problem of illegal copying of recorded music.