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Reis: US retail vacancy flat overall in Q4'18

Vacancy across malls and neighborhood and community shopping centers remained flat overall at 10.2% in the 2018 fourth quarter, research firm Reis said.

Mall vacancy fell slightly during the quarter to 9.0%, the from 9.1% in the 2018 third quarter, while neighborhood and community shopping center vacancy stayed flat at 10.2%. At the end of 2017, mall vacancy stood at 8.3% and neighborhood and community shopping center vacancy was at 10.0%.

Barbara Denham, senior economist at the firm, interpreted the minimal movement in vacancy rates as a sign of the sector's ability to withstand significant structural change.

"[I]f the retail sector was able to sustain the store closures over the last year, it can survive anything," she said.

Average mall rents increased 0.2% quarter over quarter, while both asking and effective rent rates for neighborhood and community shopping centers ticked up 0.4%.

Both net absorption and new construction were low in the 2018 fourth quarter, at 1.4 million square feet and 1.9 million square feet, respectively.

The retail sector added 50,700 jobs year over year as of November 2018, representing a 0.3% growth rate.