OVER 16% of retail units in Limerick city are vacant - the second highest vacancy rate in the country - according to a new national study.
The study, conducted by CBRE Ireland Research Team, has for the first time given a regional breakdown in the main cities and towns across the country.
Only Athlone has a higher vacancy rate than Limerick, standing at 18%, based on the number of vacant units on the main streets. By comparison, Belfast and Cork each had a vacancy rate of 13%, followed by Sligo at 12.5%.
Killarney, Kilkenny, Galway and Dublin, had much lower vacancy rates, of between 2-7%.
“The high streets in many towns around the country have suffered as a result of the development of new shopping centres or retail offerings elsewhere in the town, particularly where those developments have occurred outside of the core town centre.
“In locations where there has been a focus on upgrading the main streets and enhancing the appeal of the location to shoppers, vacancy levels as of Q3 2012 were lower,” it states.
“Retailers specialising in ladies wear accounted for the greatest proportion of occupancy in Cork, Belfast, Dublin and Kilkenny while Sligo had a more mixed fashion offering. Meanwhile the majority of occupiers on Limerick’s High Street were fast food retailers,” the report stated.
The study showed the top five types of retailers in each of the areas, with Limerick having the greatest proportion of fast food restaurants on its main street, at 21%, followed by footwear at 13%, and jewellery stores at 5%.
In contrast, women’s fashionwear occupies the core retail slots on the main streets of Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Kilkenny.
Rents on Grafton Street in Dublin have fallen by 55% since the peak, down to €4,500 per sqm, or a decrease of 10% since the first quarter of this year. However, footfall in the same area has fallen from 18,000 pedestrians per hour in 2002 to 11,000 this year.