Report: Shopping center vacancy rate hits 17-year high

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New York City The vacancy rate at U.S. strip malls reached a 17-year high in the third quarter and mall vacancy was the highest in at least 10 years, according to real estate research firm Reis Inc.

The downturn in the U.S. economy, slow consumer spending and the U.S. housing bust severely hurt new retail properties, 30% of which were completed with less than 50% occupied, Reis said in a report released on Thursday.

"Our outlook for retail properties as a whole is bleak," said Victor Calanog, Reis director of research. "Until we see stabilization and recovery take root in both consumer spending and business spending and hiring, we do not foresee a recovery in the retail sector until late 2012 at the earliest."

The third-quarter vacancy rate at U.S. strip malls, which include local shopping and big-box centers, rose 0.3% points from the second quarter to 10.3%, the highest since 1992, Reis said.

Asking rent at strip malls slid 0.3% from the second quarter to $19.22 per square foot and are down 1.9% from the prior year.