The latest GeoView Commercial Vacancy Rates Report, published by GeoDirectory and EY-DKM Economic Advisory today, shows that the national commercial vacancy rate in Ireland dropped slightly from 13.5% in the fourth quarter 2016 to 13.3% in the fourth quarter 2017.
The research reveals that 28,091 of the 211,958 commercial address points in Ireland were vacant, with 67.8% of vacant addresses empty for over three years.
The report highlights a continued imbalance between Dublin and the rest of the country, as commercial vacancy rates remain stubbornly high outside the capital. In total, GeoDirectory data shows that 15 counties registered vacancy rates higher than the national average in Q4 2017, unchanged from twelve months ago. Sligo, at 18.7%, was the county with the highest vacancy rate, followed by Galway (16.2%), Leitrim (15.6%) Mayo (15.3%) and Longford (15.1%). At the other end of the scale, Kerry (10.5%), Meath (10.7%) and Wexford (10.8%) recorded the lowest vacancy rates.
Not surprisingly commercial activity remains concentrated on the East coast of Ireland, with the Greater Dublin Area accounting for 33.2% of the overall national stock. This is in stark contrast to Connacht and Ulster, with these provinces only accounting for 13.7% and 7.8% of the national stock respectively.
In Dublin, the commercial vacancy rate fell to 12.4%, a drop of 1.3pp compared to last year, with 16 of the 22 postal districts recording a vacancy rate below the national average of 13.3%. Dublin 2, experienced a drop of 6.4pp, the most significant reduction in the city. Dublin 8, at 16.7%, has the highest commercial vacancy rate of all the Dublin postal districts.
Outside of the capital, there is evidence that the economic recovery is beginning to spread, albeit slowly, beyond the Greater Dublin Area. Modest reductions were recorded in Leitrim (-0.8pp), Donegal (-0.5pp), Limerick (-0.3pp), Waterford (-0.3pp) and Mayo (-0.3pp).
At a provincial level, Leinster, excluding Dublin, (12.6%) and Munster (13.0%) had a vacancy rate below the national average of 13.3%, while Ulster (14.0%) and Connacht (16.1%) were higher.
According to GeoDirectory data, 19,038 commercial units in Ireland have been vacant for three or more years. This represents 67.8% of the overall national commercial vacant stock of 28,091. Monaghan, at 78.5%, had the highest proportion of long term commercial vacancies in the State, followed by Laois (76.5%), Limerick (76.0%) and Clare (75.6%). At the other end of the spectrum, Galway (60.5%), Dublin (61.5%) and Westmeath (62.2%) recorded the lowest rates.
Commenting on the findings of the latest GeoView Commerical Vacancy Rates Report, CEO of GeoDirectory, Dara Keogh said, "This report shows that while there are signs that the economic recovery is beginning to spread outside Dublin, there is still a stubbornly high commercial vacancy rate, particularly along the west coast of Ireland. Given that there is also a high proportion of long term vacant commercial buildings, there is significant scope to redevelop and put these properties to better use, particularly as discussion around the National Planning Framework continues."