More than 155m albums were bought or streamed in 2020, an increase of 8.2%, according to record label body the BPI.
British artists Lewis Capaldi, Harry Styles and Dua Lipa were the three biggest-sellers of the year.
BPI boss Geoff Taylor said the "remarkable" figures were a reminder of "how important music is to our country, even when our lives are disrupted".
Lewis Capaldi's Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent was the UK's biggest-selling album for the second year in a row.
However, despite the boom in consumption, sales of individual albums were down.
For the first time since records began in 1973, not a single album released in the last 12 months was certified platinum - representing 300,000 sales - although Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia is currently closing in on that figure.
There were also no British debut albums among the year's best-selling records, illustrating the difficulties new artists have faced in finding an audience during the coronavirus pandemic.
And three of the top 10 best-sellers were Greatest Hits collections from artists whose career peak came in the 1970s - Queen, Elton John and Fleetwood Mac.