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Vacancies Continue to Rise

In the retail sector, vacancy rates have climbed and rent increases have slowed for the past year. The vacancy rate at malls in the top 76 U.S. markets rose to 6.6% in the third quarter, up from 6.3% in the previous quarter, to its highest level since late 2001, according to Reis.

For strip centers and other open-air shopping venues, the vacancy rate climbed to 8.4% in the third quarter from 8.1% in the second quarter. That marks the highest rate since 1994, according to Reis. Meanwhile, retailers' closures outpaced new leases by 2.8 million square feet in U.S. strip centers in the third quarter, the third consecutive quarterly net decline. It is the first nine-month period of so-called negative net absorption since Reis started tracking the data in 1980.

The combined vacancy rate for malls and strip centers in the third quarter was 8%, up from 7.8% in the second quarter. Vacancy tends to be higher in strip centers during economic slowdowns because they have more independent, local tenants, which are more vulnerable to drops in sales than are the national retailers found in malls.

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