Thursday 22 May 2008

Lack of space in Dublin for 'top tier' shopping centres

Dublin lags behind its EU neighbours in terms of per capita shopping space, says a new study.

DUBLIN CITY has a relatively low per capita volume of shopping centre space compared with our EU neighbours, despite the fact that it offers almost 800,000sq m (8,611,128sq ft) of space. The city's urban quarter is dominated by ageing centres and there is also a limited amount of 'top tier' retail space in the city and county, according to a new study.

Savills Hamilton Osborne King has put together a new report that looks in detail at the country's retail sector. Retail Watch is a bi-annual offering and the latest report, published last week, analyses in particular the 791,000sq m (8,514,253sq ft) of space in Dublin's 63 shopping centres.

The report also breaks down the distribution of space across the four county council sub-divisions: Dublin city, Dún Laoghaire/ Rathdown, South County and North County Dublin.

This analysis indicates that there is only 0.63sq m (6.78sq ft) of shopping centre space per capita in Dublin city and county, according to Mary-Kate McGarry, an economist at Savills.

"This level of space per capita in Dublin is half that of the current Eurozone average and falls far below the 20sq m (215.27sq ft) of space per capita in the US," she said.

Fingal and Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown offer about 1sq m (10.76sq ft) of shopping centre space per capita while the South County stands at 0.8sq m (8.61sq ft).

Surprisingly, the city centre only offers about 0.3sq m (3.23sq ft) of centre space, and of the centre space in the city, more than 80 per cent was built before 1987. Yet the city also provides about 450,000sq m (4,843,759sq ft) of on-street retail space and if this is included in the Dublin retail mix the per capita space pushes up to 1.19sq m (12.81sq ft) - still below the Eurozone average - the report indicates.

McGarry argues that the report highlights the fact there is a limited supply of 'top tier' shopping centre space in Dublin city and county. In the city this is associated with the age of many centres. The volume and quality of space will improve significantly with the arrival of the new shopping space planned for O'Connell Street.

"The addition of the Arnotts Northern Quarter and the Carlton Cinema site will potentially increase the provision of shopping centre space by over 60 per cent," she said.

Dublin's top 10 largest shopping centres account for almost 410,000sq m (4,413,203sq ft), which represents over 50 per cent of Dublin's total shopping centre space, thus illustrating the proportion of Dublin shopping centre stock dominated by smaller, grocery led anchors, McGarry indicated.

"In fact just one-fifth of Dublin shopping centres exceed 15,000sq m (161,458sq ft), which is by no means extravagant, and only one-quarter of shopping centres in the top 10 were completed in the last decade.

Clearly there is a limited supply of 'top-tier' shopping centre retail space." The top ten include Dundrum, Blanchardstown, Liffey Valley, the Pavilions and the Square. South County Dublin holds a one-third stake in the space provided by Dublin's top ten largest shopping centres, which is the greatest of the four council areas, McGarry said.

The largest single anchor tenant in terms of space is Dunnes - it is a key tenant in seven of the top ten centres.

Retail development has raced ahead away from the city centre with Fingal adding about 50 per cent to its total between 2000 and 2007, McGarry said.

Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown came off a low base but its totals are now high because of the Dundrum Town Centre and Beacon South Quarter.

South Dublin council area retail space increased by about 33 per cent between 2000 and 2007. Dublin's total for shopping centres rose by only 10 per cent but the Arnotts and Carlton sites will increase this significantly, the report says. "Given the built-up nature of the Dublin city council borough, large-scale shopping centre development has been sporadic simply given the lack of space. Jervis Street and Stephen's Green have been the only major developments in the City in the last 20 years," McGarry said.

Irish Times

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