Monday 21 October 2019

Western counties hit hardest by jump in commercial property vacancies

Western front: Counties like Sligo suffer from high vacancy rates
Western front: Counties like Sligo suffer from high vacancy rates

David Chance

Online shopping and a shift towards retail parks are pushing commercial property vacancies steadily higher across the country, with old market towns like Edenderry in County Offaly worst hit.

The GeoView Commercial Vacancy report, published today, showed that by the end of July, 28,063 of the commercial units in the State were vacant. With a total stock of 211,485, that figure is equivalent to just over 13 in every 100.

"Vacancy rates in Ireland are on the rise with 18 counties reporting an increase, up from nine in the second quarter of 2018," the survey said, adding that "the highest vacancy rates are observed in the west of Ireland".

As well as Edenderry, where the vacancy rate was more than double the national average at 28.8pc, the other black spots were Ballybofey in County Donegal and Kilrush, County Clare.

The report revealed that the six counties with the highest vacancy rates were all in the west and north west, namely in Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway and Donegal.

By contrast, all of the counties in the Greater Dublin Area recorded relatively low vacancy rates of between 10.1pc and 13.5pc, although vacancy rates in the capital fluctuate considerably depending on the Dublin postcode.

"The east-west divide in commercial activity is widening and not closing. The five Connacht counties recorded vacancy rates considerably higher than the national average, with increases in every county except Galway," said Dara Keogh, the chief executive of GeoDirectory.

Of the towns sampled, Greystones in Co Wicklow had the lowest vacancy rate in the State at just 5.8pc.

Meanwhile, in the capital, vacancy rates were down in 11 districts, compared with the corresponding period last year, with the largest annual decline registered in Dublin 11, while Dublin 20 recorded the largest rise.

The west of the country was also more highly dependent on tourism, with accommodation and food services accounting for almost a quarter of property use in Kerry, and around a fifth in Clare and Donegal. "With a high proportion of counties on the west coast relying on the accommodation and food services sectors, commercial activity in these counties could be vulnerable to the impact of Brexit, particularly as a result of currency volatility and reduced tourism," said Annette Hughes, director at EY-DKM Economic Advisory.

Overall, the services sector dominates the use of commercial property stock with 80,639 units, of which close to a third is accounted for by accommodation and food. GeoDirectory is a venture between An Post and Ordnance Survey Ireland to create and manage Ireland's only complete database of commercial and residential buildings.

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