UK retail sales of DVDs last year were more than four times higher than in 1999, according to the British Video Association.

The BVA figures show that some 16.6 million DVD Videos were sold last year compared with 4.05 million in 1999. The December total alone, at 4.71 million, was higher than the whole of the previous year. Best seller was Gladiator with more than 500,000 copies, followed by The Matrix and The Sixth Sense with more than 300,000.

The BVA says that traditional VHS sales also continued to rise last year - by 7% -- although the best sellers were different. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace topped the chart with nearly 2 million copies, followed by Toy Story 2 with more than 1.75 million and Gladiator with 1.5 million.

The UK DVD Committee says that DVD Video is ten times more popular than CD. This conclusion is drawn from the fact that over one million DVD players have been sold since the format's late 1998 launch. It took CD five years to establish that level of popularity. According to the Committee some 200,000 players were sold in December and a total of 21 million discs have now been sold.

David King, spokesman for the UK DVD Committee said: "When CD players were launched people bought them because they offered a hugely improved level of quality and enjoyment. DVD Video is the same, only more so."