Number of vacant retail premises on the rise in Omagh

Omagh’s business community received more gloomy news this week with latest figures showing that the number of vacant retail premises
has risen by two per-cent.

The new statistics show that just over 12 per-cent of the business properties in the town are unoccupied. This compares with a total of 10.6 per-cent in 2011.

The details have been released by the commercial property agency, Lisney. But, while the figures for the town will cause concern, they are
among the lowest of other towns in the North.

The Lisney managing director, Declan Flynn, said that in retail, business rates remained 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,” he said.

“This is unsustainable and will continue to be a significant factor in administrations and rising vacancies.” Omagh town councillor, Johnny
McLaughlin, said there was little hope for small businesses in areas like Omagh when larger companies are struggling.

“The fact is that there is a lot of poverty out there among people who simply don’t have the disposable income to spend in retail. You only have to travel down Omagh’s main streets to see how bad the situation is,” he said.

“It’s the small businesses which are being hit hardest in all of this. People cannot get jobs and when they do it’s really only short-term and part-time posts which are available.

“There is a plan to obtain city status for Omagh by 2025. But that’s not going to happen unless something urgent is done to address the
terrible problems being faced by small business who are having to pay exorbitant rates.”
Glyn Roberts from the Northern Ireland Independent Retailers Association (NIRTA) said the figures represented a wake-up call which demanded urgent action from the Stormont Executive.

“This survey paints a stark picture and we believe that we are approaching a trend of one in three shops being empty”