Galway has among highest commercial vacancy rate in Ireland

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The commercial vacancy rate in Galway rose to almost 17% in the final three months of last year, the fifth highest level in the country.

That’s according to the latest GeoDirectory Commercial Vacancy Rates Report, which put Galway’s 16.9% rate at almost 50 percent higher than the national average.

It is also a 0.3% increase in the number of commercial properties in Galway left vacant on the same period the previous year.

Within Galway, Tuam is the economically hardest hit town, with 22.8% of business premises empty, while Loughrea had the lowest figure of 15.7%.

Both of these were slight improvements on Q4 2020, but Galway city saw its vacancy rate increase from 17.7% in 2020 to 18.4% in 2021.

All five counties in Connacht have commercial vacancy rates above the national average, according to the report, while Galway, Sligo and Roscommon reported year-on-year increases.

Dara Keogh, Chief Executive of GeoDirectory said that the national average rate of 13.9% is the highest seen since they began reporting this data in 2013.

“This increase in commercial vacancies is not reflected in terms of numbers in employment, which according to the CSO increased steadily in 2021.”

“This may suggest that Covid-19 has accelerated businesses to pivot towards enhancing their online presence and scaling-back their physical offering on main streets.”

He said that there needs to be a policy conversation about how to regenerate vacant main street properties, as working from home and online shopping look to continue in popularity after the pandemic.

Annette Hughes, Director, EY Economic Advisory said “Our analysis in previous reports has shown a clear divide in terms of commercial activity on the east and west coast.”

“This trend remains visible, however commercial vacancies increased in 15 out of 26 counties last year.”

“I think the most interesting statistic is the over 29,000 vacant commercial units across Ireland.”

“When combined with our over 90,000 vacant residential units in our Residential Building Report published in January, this suggest that there are almost 120,000 vacant buildings.”

She suggested that a “good proportion” of those could be returned to residential, community, or commercial use in towns and cities.