Commercial vacancies remain ‘stubbornly high’

The amount of vacant business premises remains “stubbornly high” despite the recovery of the economy, with Connacht vastly above the national average, a new economic report has found.

The national commercial vacancy rate increased between the second quarter of 2016 and the same period this year, going from 13.1% to 13.5%.

Just under 29,000 of the almost 213,000 commercial address points in Ireland were vacant, the research by GeoDirectory and DKM Economic Consultants found. The report found the highest vacancy rate of any county in Ireland was recorded in Sligo at 18%, followed by Leitrim at 16.2%, Galway at 15.6% and Mayo at 15.5%.

In Munster, Limerick had a vacancy rate of 15.9%, while Kerry again had the lowest commercial vacancy rate at 10.6%. Despite consistently having a low vacancy rate over the past number of years, Kerry’s rate has risen from 9.4% against the same time in 2016. The largest increase in commercial vacancy rates was seen in Longford with vacancy rates rising from just under 13% to 14.9% between the second quarter of 2016 and this year.

Only two counties had decreases in the same period, Dublin and Leitrim but both were marginal falls, while 22 counties saw an increase in commercial vacancy.

Ballybofey in Co Donegal was the town with the highest vacancy rate at just under 29%, followed by Edenderry in Co Offaly with 27%.

The vast majority of the 15 towns with the highest commercial vacancy rates were either based along the west coast or Midlands.

The report said: “These very high vacancy rates are possibly indicative of the fact that these towns are among those that suffered greatly during the recession, when many businesses closed down, and would have not really picked up yet, in line with the economic recovery.”

In the capital, Dublin 2 had a vacancy rate of 18.3%, well above the county average at 13.6%. Nine of the Dublin districts had vacancy rates above the national average, the research found.

The rate in Cork was 11.6%, up 0.1%. No Cork town was in the 15 recorded with the highest vacancy rates.

GeoDirectory chief executive, Dara Keogh said: “Despite the improvements, we have seen in the economy in recent years, commercial vacancy rates have remained stubbornly high. In Dublin 2, where the economic recovery is obvious and demand for office space is apparently strong, we have recorded a vacancy rate of 18.3%. This suggests there is a serious mismatch between the stock available and what is being demanded.”


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