Borough’s shop vacancy rate is among lowest in NI

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Newtownabbey’s shop vacancy rate is one of the lowest in Northern Ireland, according to new research.

The figure stands at 10.3% and has fallen from 14.5% last year.

In contrast the percentage of vacant shops in Northern Ireland (19%) has increased substantially on 2011, further widening the gap with the UK average (now 11.4%)

However, of the major industrial property locations, Mallusk has the highest vacancy rate at 24%, with Newry the lowest at 10% (up from 6% last year).

The major challenges in the local retail sector are underlined in a study by commercial property agency Lisney.

Lisney analysed retail vacancy rates in towns and cities across the country and compared them to last year, as well as the UK average.

The firm also researched vacancy levels and activity in the office and industrial sectors, and activity in the property investment market.

Commenting on the research, Lisney managing director Declan Flynn said: “In retail, business rates remain a major issue. We have a situation where the level of business rates levied on shops is completely decoupled from the commercial realities of rents and the trading performance of the retailer. This is unsustainable and will continue to be a significant factor in administrations and rising vacancies, unless addressed.

“What is clear is that if nothing is done, the issues identified in this research will become even more acute, and Northern Ireland will continue to lose major potential occupiers to the Republic of Ireland other locations,” he adds.