Commercial vacancy rate at highest in a decade

February 28, 2024

The commercial property vacancy rate nationally has increased to its highest level since GeoDirectory started tracking the data a decade ago.

According to its latest Commercial Buildings Report, the vacancy rate increased by 0.3 percentage points to 14.3% in the year to the end of December.

In total, there were 30,046 empty commercial units across the country at the end of the year with the vacancy rate increasing in 20 out of 26 counties, the report noted.

GeoDirectory was jointly established by An Post and Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) to create and manage a complete database of commercial and residential buildings.

This report, as well as a report on residential vacancy rates published in recent weeks, were produced by EY.

Sligo was found to have had the highest commercial vacancy rate in the country with just over fifth – 20.5% – of units vacant, followed by Galway at 18.5% and Donegal, where 18.2% of commercial units were unused.

Meath remained the county with the lowest commercial vacancy rate in the state, where the rate stood at just above 10%.

It was closely followed by Wexford (10.5%) and Cork (12.2%), but Greystones in Co Wicklow was the town with the lowest commercial vacancy rate at 5.6%.

Edgeworthstown in Co Longford was the town with the highest vacancy rate at 30.2%.

In Dublin, the commercial vacancy rate increased by 0.3 percentage points to 13.2% at the end of 2023 which was the highest level recorded in Dublin since the end of 2016.

Dara Keogh, CEO of GeoDirectory, said the new high in the vacancy rate marked a continuation of a trend established in recent years.

“This trend can be attributed to a number of factors such as the rising cost of doing business, changing consumer habits and hybrid working. Consideration must now be given to how some of these vacant properties can be repurposed and reused, in order to avoid long-term vacancy and potential dereliction of these buildings,” he noted.

“Businesses have been impacted by a series of factors over recent years which have led to challenging trading conditions for many and so this increase is not unexpected. On a more positive note, the continued easing of inflation, ongoing reductions in energy prices and the anticipated cuts in interest rates should hopefully provide some relief for businesses this year,” Annette Hughes, Director at EY Economic Advisory said.

GeoDirectory uses NACE (Nomenclature of Economic Activities) codes, which is the European statistical classification of economic activities, to classify units sector by sector.

Of the 180,774 occupied address points nationally in the final three months of 2023, 154,995 – 85.7% – were assigned a NACE code.

The services sector had the largest share of commercial sites, accounting for 49.3% of the overall total.

That sector also had the largest reduction in the number of commercial units, recording a decrease of 636 units, which accounted for 43.1% of the total reduction in commercial properties.

Within the services sector, hospitality had the highest number of commercial units, accounting for 22,379 units or 14.4% of the total, followed by retail and wholesale.

Article Source – Commercial vacancy rate at highest in a decade – RTE

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