The ripple effect of economic recovery is being seen with increased retailer occupancy levels on the main streets in major provincial towns and cities. However, increasing competition from online retailers as well as the weakness of sterling presents challenges for retailers to sustain this recovery. The latest CBRE retail market report, which is due for publication today,
states that vacancy rates have either reduced or stabilised in most
towns and cities.The Irish Independent
says the new report on the retail sector suggests that Ireland's economic recovery has begun to spread beyond Dublin and its immediate commuter counties of Kildare, Meath and Wicklow.
According to the report, Sligo's O'Connell Street has improved and while it still has the second highest vacancy rate in the country, it is down from 17.5pc in the third quarter of 2014 to 15pc six months ago and 12.8pc in the third quarter of this year.
O'Connell St is currently undergoing a €1.2m water and sewage services update, above photo
Athlone, Co. Westmeath, which has the worst vacancy levels, has seen them fall from a high of 21.6pc in 2014 to 18.2pc earlier in the year and 14.9pc in the latest quarter.'Notable Buzz'
Bernadine Hogan, senior director at CBRE Ireland's retail team, said: "A notable buzz has also returned to the high streets of Cork, Sligo and Waterford." Hogan will be on the CBRE stand at the MAPIC international retail conference in Nice, France where about 100 retailers from around the world will be on the lookout for new market places.
"During the six months to September Irish retail has continued to perform strongly and occupier activity has remained buoyant throughout the country's prime locations.
A combination of factors are benefiting the market, such as increased disposable income, reduced taxes in the recent Budget and higher employment. Consequently the volume of retail sales across all businesses were 3.4pc higher over the first nine months of 2016."
Suzanne Barrett, director at CBRE's Ireland Research team, says the Brexit vote and devaluation of sterling has undoubtedly had an impact with evidence of leakage to online shopping and to Northern Ireland over recent months.
"Indeed, the latest Visa Irish Consumer Spending Index shows that online spending increased by 13.4pc in the year to end September - the fifth time in six months that online retailing experienced double-digit expansion."