Commercial property market takes ‘severe’ hit from Covid-19

CBRE report details major fall-off in activity apart from logistics and warehouse sector

Activity in Ireland’s commercial property market has been severely hit by Covid-19 and the threat of a no-deal Brexit.

The latest report from commercial property specialist CBRE says investment totalled €2.4 billion in the first nine months of 2020, down 37 per cent on the €3.3 billion for the same period last year.

The estate agency said both the depth and duration of Covid-19 lockdown measures had been “considerably more severe than originally anticipated in March”.

"Although investors continued to seek out opportunities in the Irish market . . . and we saw some transactional activity occurring regardless, the inability of international investors to travel to the island to inspect properties posed a very real challenge and impacted investment transaction volumes," said Marie Hunt, head of research at CBRE Ireland.


She said the office market was suffering from huge indecision with many large transactions “put on hold indefinitely”.

Total take-up in the Dublin office market reached more than 130,000 square metres in the first nine months of 2020, with a further 30,000 reserved. But CBRE said that “even if all of this stock signs by year end, annual office take-up in the capital will be considerably lower than in recent years” as most occupants are reluctant to make long-term decisions in the current climate.

Another sector which has been particularly badly hit is retail. With only essential retail trading from physical stores, much of this year’s Christmas spending will occur online, CBRE said.

The industrial and logistics sector, however, continues to buck the trend, with strong levels of activity recorded over recent months. CBRE said this had been boosted somewhat by Brexit planning but, to a greater degree, by increased ecommerce activity.

The report also noted that development land spend in the first nine months of 2020 totalled less than €185 million compared with about €767 million in the same period last year.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times