Call for local government to tackle highstreet vacancy rates
21 May 2014
Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, today said the local elections on Friday offer an important opportunity to address the high level of vacant units on streets in Ireland’s towns and cities. The group urged candidates to remember that the retail industry is the biggest employer in the country and is vital to the success of local economies; a fact which needs to be reflected in the decisions of local government.
Retail Ireland director Stephen Lynam said: "Research from CBRE shows that while retail activity has picked up a little, vacancy rates in key towns and cities remain high."
Athlone has a vacancy rate on its high street of 21.6% in Q1 of 2014, up from 18.2% in Q3 of last year. Meawhile the vacancy rate on Patrick Street in Cork is up from 13% to 14.3%, while the vacancy rate on Henry Street in Dublin has reached 12.8%, up from 4.3%. In Sligo and Limerick, the high street vacancy rate remains unchanged since last year, standing at 12.5% and 16.3% respectively.
"There are improvements in parts of the country, with high profile areas like Grafton Street showing reduced vacancies and Cork’s Opera Lane development fully let. But the overall picture highlights the continued problems of the sector," said Lynam.
"A key problem is the high level of local authority charges, such as commercial rates. It is vital that both voters and candidates in Friday’s elections remember that a recovery in the retail sector will reduce vacancy rates, increase the rates base and ultimately provide extra funding for local authority services. A key way to make that happen is to reduce rates for retailers and even offer rates holidays for retailers that take on a vacant unit. That way we can breathe new life into our towns and cities," he added.