Mayo’s vacancy rate was 15.8% in Q4 2018, up 0.6pp compared to the same period in 2017 according to the latest GeoView Commercial Vacancy Rates Report, published by GeoDirectory today.
The national commercial vacancy rate has fallen slightly from 13.3% in Q4 2017 to 13.2% in Q4 2018. Out of the total stock of 211,610 commercial properties in the State, 27,951 were vacant as of Q4 2018.
The report highlights the widening gap between the East and West coast in terms of commercial activity, showing that while the economy has improved significantly in recent years, it is mainly centred around urban areas.
For example, Dublin and the surrounding counties of Meath, Kildare and Wicklow, account for 33.2% of all commercial properties in the country. In contrast, the five counties in Connacht accounted for only 13.6% of the national stock.
Counties on the West coast recorded the highest commercial vacancy rates, with Sligo (18.9% ), Leitrim (16.4% ), Galway (16% ), Mayo (15.8% ) and Roscommon (15.7% ) making up the top five. Worryingly, Leitrim (+0.8 pp ), Roscommon (+0.8 pp ) and Mayo (+0.6 pp ) also recorded the highest increases in commercial vacancies.
At the other end of the scale, Meath was the county with the lowest commercial vacancy rate at 10.4%, followed by Kerry (10.6% ), Wexford (11% ), Westmeath (11.1% ) and Cork (11.6% ). Laois experienced the biggest decline in vacancy rates, down 1.1 pp on Q4 2017. In total, 13 counties registered a decline in vacancy rates, with the remaining 13 counties recording an increase.
GeoDirectory has carried out an analysis of vacancy rates in 80 towns across the four provinces. In Mayo, Ballina at 22.9% was the town with the highest commercial vacancy rate in Q4 2018. Westport was the town with the lowest commercial vacancy rate in the county at 12%.
Ballybofey in Donegal remains the town with the highest commercial vacancy rate in Ireland, rising by 2 pp to 30.7% in Q4 2018. In contrast, Greystones in Wicklow recorded a vacancy rate of 6.1%, the lowest in the country.
Overview of the Accommodation and Food Services Sector
The report also gives a more detailed analysis of the GeoDirectory database by examining the breakdown of address points by sector of economic activity, using NACE* codes. The GeoView Commercial Vacancy Rates Report for Q4 2018 focuses on the Accommodation and Food Services sector. This sector includes restaurants, event catering & food services, beverage serving activities, hotels and other forms of short-term accommodation.
The report shows that there was a total of 22,996 units in this sector in Q4 2018, representing 13.7% of the overall total of commercial stock with a NACE code.
In Mayo, 17.8% of commercial properties are involved in the accommodation and food services sector.
Kerry (23.5% ), Clare (20.3% ), Donegal (19% ), Leitrim (18.2% ) and Mayo (17.8% ) were the counties with the highest percentage of Accommodation and Food Services units relative to the overall commercial stock in the county. This demonstrates the importance of tourism to the West coast, particularly given the high commercial vacancy rates typical to the region.
The report shows that there are 348 fewer Retail and Wholesale units in the country compared to the same time last year, which may be an indication of the growing consumer preference for online shopping.
Speaking about the GeoView Commercial Vacancy Rates Report for Q4 2018, Dara Keogh, CEO of GeoDirectory said: “Even though the commercial vacancy rate dropped slightly in the past year, the report shows a continuing east-west divide in terms of commercial activity in Ireland. The Greater Dublin Area is dominating the rest of the country, with a third of all commercial units in the country located in just four counties. The importance of tourism to the west coast is also evident, with the highest proportion of Accommodation and Food Service units located in this region. Depending on the outcome of Brexit, the economy of this region may be vulnerable to fluctuating currency exchange rates and potentially fewer visitors from the UK.”
Annette Hughes, Director, EY-DKM Economic Advisory added, “Our data highlights that the gap between those counties with higher provincial vacancy rates and those with the lowest, is widening. This is demonstrated when we analyse the data for Leinster, which had the lowest vacancy rate, and Connacht, which had the highest vacancy rate and see that the gap between the two provinces has grown by 0.4 percentage points. This analysis shows us that improvements in commercial activity continue to be concentrated on the east coast of Ireland. A rebalancing of this activity requires Government to urgently progress the delivery of Project 2040.”