Due to increases in export production, German beer sales for the first half of this year increased while domestic consumption declined for the same period compared to last year. Thanks to a 16.4 percent increase in the amount of German beer destined for other European countries, overall beer sales by volume increased 0.6 percent to 5.18 billion liters (1.346 billion gallons). On the home front -- which accounts for 87 percent of total production -- Germans consumed only about 4.5 billion liters, 1.4 percent less than last year. The domestic beer market has been steadily shrinking since about 1995. Market observers attribute the decline to a more health-conscious public who is switching to other forms of beverages and a sluggish economy which has resulted in lower consumer spending.