The vacancy rate of commercial properties has crept up across the State in the past year with 28,063 units empty by the end of June, a report published by GeoDirectory, a body backed by An Post and Ordnance Survey, has found.
The national commercial vacancy rate rose to 13.3 per cent in the second quarter of this year with the total commercial stock at 212,485 units, according to the GeoView commercial vacancy rates report.
Furthermore, the volume of counties which recorded an increase in vacancy rates doubled on the second quarter to 18 with Sligo particularly badly affected with an almost 19 per cent vacancy rate.
Regional disparities persist in the report, with Connacht recording the highest provincial vacancy rate at 16.6 per cent. Leinster, excluding Dublin, had the lowest provincial vacancy rate at 12.9 per cent, below the national average. But even the Leinster figures masks rural issues with Offaly and Longford recording vacancy rates of more than 15 per cent.
The data also delved in to sectoral trends and noted that business in the services sector continue to be the primary occupier of the total commercial stock with more than 80,000 units. Meanwhile, the accommodation and food sector accounted for 28 per cent of the services total. In Kerry, accommodation and food services units accounted for 23.8 per cent of the total while in Clare and Donegal that figure was 20.5 per cent and 19 per cent respectively. Those areas of the country are likely to be particularly badly affected by Brexit, the report notes, and occupancy rates could worsen.
"The latest GeoView commercial vacancy rates report shows that the east-west divide in commercial activity is widening and not closing. The five Connacht counties recorded vacancy rates considerably higher than the national average, with increases in every county except Galway," said GeoDirectory chief executive Dara Keogh.
GeoDirectory also analysed 102 locations, including 80 towns across the four provinces plus 22 Dublin districts. It found that Edenderry had the highest commercial vacancy rate of 28.8 per cent, followed by Ballybofey, Kilrush, Edgeworthstown and Shannon. Of the town sample, Greystones had the lowest vacancy rate at 5.8 per cent, followed by Maynooth and Carrigaline.
In Dublin, which had just under a quarter of the commercial stock, the vacancy rate stood at 12.1 per cent, flat on the same period last year. The county with the biggest change was Leitrim, which saw a 1.1 percentage point increase in its rate to 16.7 per cent while Laois saw the biggest decrease of 0.9 percentage points to 13.2 per cent.
In the capital, the lowest vacancy rate was in Dublin 16 at 6.9 per cent while Dublin 8, with a 15.4 per cent vacancy rate, was the highest.
The report was prepared for GeoDirectory by EY-DKM Economic Advisory Services.