National Commercial Vacancy Rate Rises to 13.5% as Number of Retail and Wholesale Address Points Fall


Increase in commercial vacancy rate recorded in 19 counties  

GeoView Commercial Property Report Q4 2020:  

  • The national commercial vacancy rate was 13.5% in Q4 2020. This represented a 0.2 percentage point (pp) increase on the corresponding figure in Q4 2019  
  • As of December 2020, there were 28,572 vacant commercial properties in the State  
  • An increase in commercial vacancy rates was recorded in 19 counties in Q4 2020 when compared to the same period in Q4 2019  
  • The number of retail and wholesale address points fell by over 2,000 units. This represented a 5.3% decline in units in the sector   
  • Meath was the county with the lowest commercial vacancy rate (10.1%), while Sligo had the highest rate (19.9%)  

25th February 2021 

The national commercial vacancy rate increased by 0.2 percentage points to 13.5% in Q4 2020, with a rise in vacancy rates recorded in 19 counties, according to the latest GeoView Commercial Property Report published by GeoDirectory and EY-DKM today. In total, there were 28,572 vacant commercial properties in the State in December 2020.  

The findings of the report suggest that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the commercial property landscape has not yet been fully realised. However, key trends and indicators are beginning to emerge.  

Commercial Vacancy Trends  

An increase in commercial vacancy rates was recorded in 19 counties in Q4 2020 when compared to the corresponding period in 2019. This included every county in Munster, Ulster and Connacht. Of the five counties to record a decline, all were located in the Leinster region.  

Previous GeoView Commercial Property Reports have highlighted a growing regional disparity in commercial occupancy rates and this trend appears to be accelerating. The commercial vacancy rates in Connacht and Ulster were above the national average of 13.5%, while Munster was equal to the national average. In comparison, Leinster (12.3%) and Leinster, excluding Dublin, (12.7%) recorded vacancy rates below the national average.  

The seven counties with the highest commercial vacancy rates were all located along the west coast of Ireland, with almost one-in-five commercial properties vacant in Sligo (19.9%), the highest in the country.  

With the exception of Kildare (14.4%), all counties in the Greater Dublin Area registered commercial vacancy rates lower than the national average, with Meath (10.1%) recording the lowest rate. In the capital itself, the vacancy rate fell marginally by 0.1pp to 11.9%.  

Analysis of Commercial Sectors  

Using the classification of commercial property which are allocated a NACE* code, GeoDirectory can provide an analysis of broad economic sectors to identify trends in property usage. The data shows that in Q4 2020 there were 2,011 fewer Retail and Wholesale address points in Ireland when compared to the previous year. This represents a decline of 5.3%.

Similar declines were also recorded in the Education (5.5%) and Industry (5.0%) sectors.  

Looking specifically at the Accommodation and Food Services sector, GeoDirectory figures show that there was a total of 22,675 units classified in this sector across Ireland in Q4 2020. Kerry (24.3.%), Clare (20.6%), Donegal (19.3%), Leitrim (18.7%) and Mayo (17.9%) were the counties with the highest proportion of Accommodation and Food Service units, relative to the overall county commercial stock.  

Town and Dublin District Analysis  

The latest GeoView Commercial Property Report has analysed the commercial vacancy rates in selected towns across the country. The analysis has found that Ballybofey in Co. Donegal, at 29.2%, was the town with the highest commercial vacancy rate amongst 80 towns sampled, followed by Edenderry in Co. Offaly (27.5%) and Edgeworthstown in Co. Longford (26.9%).  

Greystones in Co. Wicklow, at 7.2%, continued to have the lowest commercial vacancy rate across the 80 towns, while Gorey in Co. Wexford (8.1%) and Carrigaline in Co. Cork (8.3%) also posted noticeably low vacancy rates.  

In Dublin, the highest commercial vacancy rate was found in Dublin 9 (16.4%), representing a 1.9 pp increase on Q4 2019 figures. Dublin 15 was the postcode with the lowest vacancy rate at just 6.2%.  

Speaking about the launch of the GeoView Commercial Property Report, Dara Keogh, CEO of GeoDirectory said, “It has been an extremely turbulent twelve months for commercial sectors in Ireland with restrictions and lockdowns causing much uncertainty for businesses. We have yet to see the full impact of this on the commercial property sector, but some trends are beginning to emerge. The number of retail and wholesale units fell sharply in 2020. This may be as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, but also could point to the changing face of retail with businesses moving towards an online model.” 

Commenting on the findings of the report, Annette Hughes, Director, EY-DKM Economic Advisory said, “Previous GeoView Commercial Property reports have highlighted an east-west divide in terms of economic activity and this appears to be increasing. Outside of Leinster, no province recorded a commercial vacancy rate below the national average, while stubbornly high rates of commercial vacancy are recorded along the west coast. These are also areas with the highest proportion of tourism and hospitality units, which have been severely impacted by Covid-19 restrictions.” 


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