Adele held onto the top spot after selling 95,000 copies last week, breaking yet another record as "21" became the first album since 1993 to reign the charts for 17 weeks.
Last week saw albums with sales lower than 20,000 copies a week entering the top ten chart for the first time in Nielsen SoundScan history, and this week all the albums in the No.6 to No. 10 spots sold less than 20,000 copies in the week.
Dave Bakula, senior vice-president of analytics for entertainment at Nielsen, said that while overall sales were still running strong, only down 1 percent from last week, the low figures were due to "a very, very quiet time of year," paired with a lack of new releases.
"The album industry as a whole still has better strength than there was last year. You've got that one record at the top with Adele that still drives people to buy nearly 100,000 copies a week and that provides a really great story," said Bakula.
"It would be absolutely essential for us to get some more depth of new releases out there, some more people in the stores," he said.
Country music singer Toby Keith, whose album "Clancy's Tavern" jumped from No. 22 to No. 8 this week, was unable to break the 20,000 sales mark, despite his album being priced for $ 4.99 at Target retail stores last week.
KIDZ BOP INTO NO. 2 SPOT
The sluggish market meant two new entries scored high debuts, with "Kidz Bop 21," a compilation of recent hits such as Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger" but sung by children, at No. 2, and gospel singers James Fortune & FIYA's "Identity" landing at No. 7.
"A fun quirk of the charts is that if you pick the right time of year and the right wee k with the right kind of act, you could have your best week ever, because of a function of the calendar," said Keith Caulfield, associate director of charts at Billboard.com.
Caulfield said January is usually a quiet month and paired with general album sales in flux, "there's not a lot out there and therefore, no one is buying much of it."
All that might change next week with new releases from country singers Tim McGraw and Kellie Pickler, as well as the official "2012 Grammy Nominees" compilation, ahead of the Grammy Awards show on February 12.
Adele and "Kidz Bop 21" were followed by the Black Keys' "El Camino" and Drake's "Take Care" holding their positions at No. 3 and No. 4 respectively, while Rihanna's "Talk That Talk" scraped 20,000 sales to reach No. 5.
Adele showed no signs of slowing down her chart reign. Her third single, "Set Fire to the Rain," knocked Rihanna's "We Found Love" from the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100. The British singer's previous two singles, "Rolling in the Deep" and "Someone Like You" also scored the top chart position last year.
"21" joins a list of just nine albums in Billboard history to top the 200 album chart while two singles from the album take the top spot on the Hot 100 songs chart.
In the Digital Songs chart, Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain" was dethroned from No. 1 by David Guetta's thumping club track "Turn Me On" featuring Nicki Minaj.