Ennis is thriving as the social and cultural hub of County Clare and the retail offer in the town centre is robust, a Clare County Council survey has found.
The Council’s Planning Department conducted an Ennis Town Centre Retail Health Check in September 2021 surveying the ground floor use of units in Ennis town centre. The results of the Health Check were compared with the results from previous years, to allow for comparisons to be drawn and patterns to be identified.
The findings from the Ennis Town Centre Retail Health Check 2021 illustrate that retail and retail services account for 35 per cent of the total ground floor use of buildings within the town centre, and leisure services such as restaurants, public houses and gyms encompass 12 per cent of the ground floor usage in Ennis. These findings indicate that Ennis is thriving as the commercial, social and cultural hub of the county. Financial and business services are also well established in the town, accounting for 7.3 per cent of the ground floor usage of buildings.
The occupancy rate within the town is 85 per cent as of September 2021. In the two years between 2019-2021 the instance of vacancy has not changed significantly, with only 1 additional vacant ground floor unit recorded from the September 2020 Health Check. Having regard to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the wider uncertain macroeconomic climate it is considered that Ennis town has performed very well in terms of its occupancy rate. Significantly, retail occupancy has only declined by 1 unit in that time (285 units in 2020; 284 units in 2021), which demonstrates that the retail offer in Ennis town centre is robust.
It is the intention of the Planning Department of Clare County Council to conduct a further Health Check of Ennis town towards the end of 2022, which will capture any changes in occupancy rates that may result from the latter stages of the pandemic and the subsequent period of recovery.
Cllr Ann Norton, Mayor of Ennis Municipal District, said: “I welcome the findings of the Ennis Town Centre Retail Health Check which indicate that, despite the challenges of Covid-19, retail in Ennis has proven robust. The improvements to the public realm in Ennis town centre, coupled with successes such as Ennis winning Ireland’s Tidiest Town in the nation’s Tidy Towns competition in November 2021, highlights that the local community take great pride in ensuring Ennis is clean, tidy and inviting for all the consumers and visitors in the town. All of this demonstrates a very positive future for Ennis into 2022.”
Liam Conneally, Director of Economic Development, Clare County Council, said: “The high proportion of occupancy at 85 per cent and the evidence of re-use of units in Ennis town centre is a major boost for our town and the people of Ennis and Clare. People are shopping local, which in turn allows Ennis to continue to prosper as an important economic, cultural and social hub of County Clare. While the Covid-19 pandemic has presented significant challenges, the evidence shows that a consistently large proportion of ground floor units have remained in active use during the 2019-2021 period, and that retail use in Ennis has remained robust.
In addition to the Government’s Urban Regeneration Development Funds, the Council has continued to invest significant resources in the upgrade of the public realm in Ennis town centre through street and footpath improvements and, taken together with the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, I anticipate that there will be an increase in commercial occupancy rates in the near future. The Ennis 2040 plan will assist in this endeavour. This will be to the benefit of all consumers and residents of the town.”