The UK video retail market grew by 12% last year, according to figuresreleased by the British Video Association.

Although impressive, the 12% growth in 2004 is significantly down fromthe 30% growth posted in 2003 - a slowdown blamed on a maturing market and anincrease in piracy.

First reports from the BVA show that233.5 million units were sold in 2004, compared with 208 million units in 2003. DVD sales continued to soar ahead with 36 per cent growth last year as household DVD player penetration is estimated to have passed the 60% mark, while VHS sales declined 41%.

"Many industries would be extremely envious of an annualgrowth rate of twelve per cent, and these results are better than we expectedin December. The video market wasexpected to start maturing at some stage, producing slower growth rates thanwe've seen in the last few years. What isperhaps less predictable and more worrying is the recent dramatic rise in thelevels of DVD piracy. Over the past six months this has begun tomake itself felt at store level," said BVA director general, Lavinia Carey.

The BVA said 50-60 million counterfeit DVDs were illegally traded in theUK and that the industry is seeing evidence that illegal trading has expandedfrom markets to offices, pubs and doorsteps, making piracy more commonplace andsocially acceptable.

2004top ten best selling video titles:

1. Finding Nemo (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)

2. Lord Of The Rings, Return of the King (Entertainment in Video)

3. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (Warner Home Video)

4. Shrek 2 (Universal Pictures)

5. Love Actually (Universal Pictures)

6. Calendar Girls (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)

7. Day After Tomorrow (20th Century Fox HomeEntertainment)

8. Pirates Of The Caribbean (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)

9. Little Britain (BBC)

10. I, Robot (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)