Commercial property vacancy rate rises to 13.5%
13.5% of commercial properties listed across the country were vacant in the final quarter of last year, according to figures published by GeoDirectory and EY-DKM.
The number of vacant properties increased marginally by 0.2% in the fourth quarter, with 28,572 units unoccupied last December.
The findings of the report suggest that it is too soon to determine the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the commercial property landscape.
However, it states that key trends and indicators are beginning to emerge.
The figures show that commercial vacancy rates in Connacht and Ulster were above the national average of 13.5%, while Munster was equal to the national average.
Leinster recorded vacancy rates below the national average.
Sligo had the highest number of vacant commercial properties, with 19.9% or almost one-in-five such properties unoccupied.
With the exception of Kildare at 14.4%, the figures show that all counties in the greater Dublin area registered commercial vacancy rates lower than the national average, with Meath recording the lowest rate at 10.1%.
In the capital, the vacancy rate fell marginally by 0.1% to 11.9%.
The data shows that in the fourth quarter of last year there were 2,011 fewer retail and wholesale address points in Ireland when compared to the previous year – this represents a decline of 5.3%.
Similar declines were also recorded in the education (5.5%) and industry (5.0%) sectors.
The report also analysed the commercial vacancy rates in a number of towns across the country.
Ballybofey in Co Donegal, at 29.2%, was the town with the highest commercial vacancy rate amongst 80 towns sampled, followed by Edenderry in Co Offaly at 27.5% and Edgeworthstown in Co Longford at 26.9%.
Greystones in Co Wicklow, at 7.2%, continued to have the lowest commercial vacancy rate across the 80 towns, while Gorey in Co Wexford at 8.1% and Carrigaline in Co Cork at 8.3% also posted noticeably low vacancy rates.
Dara Keogh, CEO of GeoDirectory, said it has been an extremely turbulent 12 months for commercial sectors in Ireland.
“The number of retail and wholesale units fell sharply in 2020. This may be as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, but also could point to the changing face of retail with businesses moving towards an online model,” he said.
Annette Hughes, Director, EY-DKM Economic Advisory, said that previous GeoView commercial property reports have highlighted an east-west divide in terms of economic activity and she said this appears to be increasing.
“Outside of Leinster, no province recorded a commercial vacancy rate below the national average, while stubbornly high rates of commercial vacancy are recorded along the west coast,” she said.
“These are also areas with the highest proportion of tourism and hospitality units, which have been severely impacted by Covid-19 restrictions,” she added.