Report: U.S. strip-mall vacancy rate declines

New York -- The average vacancy rate at strip malls across the United States edged down for the first time in nearly seven years in the first quarter, falling to 10.9% from 11% in the prior quarter, according to preliminary data by real-estate research company Reis Inc., Reuters reported. It was the first decline in nearly seven years.

But the firm warned consumer spending is still not strong enough to lift retail real estate out of its slump.

"The tide of the economy is not rising quickly enough to raise all the ships in the ocean of retail," according to the report.

The average asking rental rate at strip malls in the first quarter inched up 0.1%, the same increase as in the fourth quarter, to $19.05 per square foot. Effective rent also was up 0.1%, to $16.57 per square foot.

Regional malls vacancy rates in the first quarter fell to 9% from 9.2% in the previous quarter. It was the second consecutive quarterly decline for the regional centers. The average asking rent in the centers rose 0.2% to $39.00 per square foot.

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