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Night life is booming but shops dying

DUBLIN city centre is in danger of "dying" during the day, a councillor has warned.

He issued the alert after it emerged the city's retail core – including Grafton Street on the southside and Henry Street on the northside – is "losing market share".

"With regard to retail, it has to be said the city centre is losing market share not only to shopping centres but to digital media (which is) exemplified by HMV closing," the council's deputy city planner John O'Hara said.

But on the positive side, the capital's nightlife seems to be thriving.

"There is, according to recent planning applications, a growth in restaurants, eating-out facilities and evening entertainment in the city. Maybe that's something we need to look at in the future – is that a trend we should be promoting or not?" he said.

Fine Gael's Bill Tormey said footfall in the city centre "seems to be in decline and the traders seem to be losing profits".

"It seems to be that there may be a long-term trend evolving here where the city centre is in fact dying," he said.

"It's okay to say we're getting more people in for food and entertainment later on but that means that the city can die in the daytime and suddenly come alive and then die again," he added.

Decline

Former Lord Mayor Andrew Montague said that while "retail has fared poorly" in the last year, "eating out and entertainment is doing rather well".

Despite the decline in shopping, the vacancy rate for city centre units has dropped from 15pc to below 10pc, he added.

Mr Montague said: "In the South William Street area, it's dropped from 25pc down to 5pc. There is a lot of activity in Dublin. Retail mightn't be doing well but there are other things taking its place.

"That's very common in a lot of cities around the world because the internet is taking a lot of the retail market away. That's something we (the council) have to look at strategically; how we deal with that changing circumstance."

They were speaking after the council released a review of the implementation of the city development plan, one of the aims of which is to strengthen the capital as a national retail destination.

The review stated: "Dublin city's ability to market itself as a retail destination relies on successful branding, making attractive spaces and places and encouraging more people to access and move around the city centre."

comurphy@herald.ie


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