Spirits sales in Czech continued to struggle in the first half of this year, according to recent figures.

Data released by the Union of Liquor Producers and Importers (ULPI) in the country has shown that sales of spirits in the country in the six months to the end of June fell by 7% year-on-year. The drop continues the negative performance for the sector in Czech that dates from 2010.

The ULPI blamed the slide on higher excise duty and a flourishing black market, which local observers estimate accounts for as much as a quarter of the country’s total spirits production.

Czech spirits firms are looking to exports to offset their domestic travails.

“Foreign sales last year accounted for 27% of overall production,” the union’s executive director Vladimír Steiner told just-drinks, adding that over 80% of spirits exports went to Slovakia, Poland and Hungary.

In Czech, around 55m litres of spirits are purchased every year.