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Slump in demand 'sparking huge shift in property sector' in Northern Ireland

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Brian Henning

Brian Henning

Brian Henning

A major slump in demand for retail space has triggered a "seismic" shift in the local commercial property market, it has been claimed.

A survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Ulster Bank found demand for shop space had collapsed following the pandemic and lockdown.

The RICS said the larger number of people working from home would also take its toll.

Local RICS chairman Brian Henning added: "The seismic nature of what is taking place in the commercial property sector should not be underestimated. Structural changes already under way, particularly around ecommerce, will be exacerbated, hitting the high street hard.

"But alongside this, the inevitable rise in agile working as businesses seek to build resilience against future pandemics will undoubtedly lead to a reassessment of demand for office space."

The RICS also admitted, however, that greater flexibility over possible changes of use for commercial property could help the sector in the future.

It carried out a survey into the sentiment of members during the first quarter.

While they began the year with a positive outlook, the pandemic held up activity and is expected to weigh heavily on business in the coming months.

Belfast Telegraph