Businesses are being priced out of the area

John Murphy outside his store on Meath Street
photo credit: Eibhin Kavanagh

According to several business owners, the rising cost of rent is making it harder for stores to stay afloat, causing several stores to close or move location. Locally run stores are particularly at risk of this.

Zahid Minhas, store manager for the newly opened Bright Home on Meath Street says that he rented the retail unit for €70,000 for two years after the previous occupants were unable to renew their lease.

Minhas revealed that the cost of rent pushed his options away from where he would have liked to open his business.

“I had to look away from the city centre.” Said Minhas, “but even then, the rent is already very high here, and it’s only going to get higher.”

Enable Ireland assistant Elizabeth Blackmore revealed that their charity stores on Thomas Street and South Great George Street were being forced to up their prices in order to keep up with the cost.

“We’re given quotas that we need to hit in terms of sales,” said Blackmore.

“But as the cost of rent is going up, so are the targets we have to reach just to stay in the green.”

Larger stores are not immune to this either. When the iconic Waltons Music Store closed down its South Great George Street store in 2017 after almost 100 years, managing director Niall Walton cited the rise in rent as the driving factor.

The store was forced to relocate to Blanchardstown after a proposed doubling of its rental cost. The area was eventually rented out to Danish furniture company Søstrene Grene for an estimated €260,000 per year.

Reports from the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) confirm the rise of commercial rent prices. Annual SCSI reports have claimed that prime retail rent prices in Dublin rose by 6% in 2018. However, the report also suggests that after several years of sustained growth, the rate of this rise is gradually slowing down.

Rising rent has had a lasting effect on Dublin 8. As smaller stores are priced out of the area, larger stores are moving in and adding to the increased gentrification of The Liberties. Noel Fleming, owner of Noel’s Deli on Meath Street, points out that the introduction of large grocery stores in the area has killed off many local businesses.

“Stores like Tesco and Aldi can afford to move into the area” said Fleming. “When Tesco moved in on Thomas Street, I definitely felt it.”

“Places like the local butchers eventually had to shut down.”

Retiring store owner John Murphy believes that this is damaging the culture of The Liberties. Having worked on Meath Street for 37 years, he has seen a significant change in the area.

“Big guys come in and push out the little ones”, he said. “Now we’ve grocery stores and coffee shops taking over the street.”

“Places like Tesco offer lower prices in exchange for lower quality. It’s impossible to compete.”

The gentrification of Dublin 8 is cause for concern. Smaller businesses are moving out and taking the character of The Liberties with them. As larger companies take their place, the area is losing its culture and identity and is slowly becoming another area of the city centre that is dominated by multinational companies.

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