Tourist destination Killarney has fewer vacant shops than most other towns, largely attributed to trade generated by the million-plus visitors that come all year round.
CBRE research found that Galway and the Co Kerry town have the lowest level of high street vacancies, which may be due to the prevalence of public houses and gift stores in the town centre.
In the third quarter of 2012, Killarney had a 2% vacancy rate and 3.9%, in the first quarter of 2015, according to the research.
Killarney auctioneer Tom Spillane said there was a “fluidity” in the commercial property scene which meant that if a shop became vacant it did not take too long to get it occupied again.
“We find that, usually, places won’t remain idle for a year, or two years. If the rent is realistic we will move it on and everyone is realistic about rents at this stage.”
At present, the multiple-unit Innisfallen Shopping Mall, off Main St, is on the market and Mr Spillane is confident of finding a purchaser. The property has a €3.2m reserve.
Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce president Kate Lee said while the town was fortunate to have fewer vacant premises than many other towns, there was concern about the plight of small businesses and sole traders. Smaller operators were going out of business and multinationals were taking over even more.
“We feel smaller operators should be encouraged, but there seems to be no incentives for such people to go into business,” said Ms Lee, of the Laurels Bar and Restaurant.
Many of the small, and sometimes quaint, owner- occupied shops have closed, with some buildings being subsumed into major chain stores. Ms Lee felt more small traders would improve the retail experience for people coming to Killarney.
“Small traders generally have a more personal touch. They also take great pride in their premises and like to have their businesses looking well, which helps the overall image of the town.”
The chamber has set up a sub-committee to encourage new people to set up in business and enhance the overall retail experience in Killarney. Huge efforts have been made to improve the appearance of Killarney.
Plastic, neon-lit shopfronts have been largely replaced by traditional facades, while shrubs, trees and flowers have been planted all over the place.
Killarney is also a national Tidy Towns competition winner and a voluntary corps of people is engaged in regular litter-picking in the town and surrounds.
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