Giant UK high-street retailer WH Smith plans to cease distributing CD singles, alleging that sales of the medium have been dropping for some time.

WH Smith told the BBC that this does not mean it is cutting back on entertainment products, but has been facing stiff competition form supermarkets selling cut-price songs.

As previously reported, the UK music business has seen a 31 per cent fall in singles sales, as consumers favour competitively-priced album sales, which have climbed 5.6 per cent.

The music industry continues to pile on the pressure to protect its corporate profits, but Associated Press (AP) reports that despite the success of Apple's iTunes Music Store – which dominates digital music sales in the US – downloading music continues apace.

AP reports analysts who believe the "faucet is still on" for illegal downloads, with some estimating that 100 times the number of legally-sold digital tracks are downloaded illegally.