January 4, 2018 / 4:36 AM / 10 months ago

U.S. retail vacancies rise slightly in fourth quarter: Reis

FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians pass a sign advertising a sale and a job opening at a shop on Newbury Street in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

(Reuters) - U.S. retail real estate vacancies inched up to 10 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, Reis Inc REIS.O said in a report released on Wednesday.

Asking rents for retail neighborhood and community centers rose 1.8 percent, while effective rent edged 1.9 percent higher, the real estate research firm said.

On an annual basis, 38 metros have a higher vacancy rate but only seven post a decline in asking or effective rent, the report said.

Construction activity fell 53.4 percent, with 1.48 million square feet of new construction completed, according to the report.

Net absorption for retail neighborhood and community centers, measured in terms of available retail space sold in the market during a certain time period, fell 49.7 percent to 1.85 million square feet.

Mall vacancies have been climbing as retailers, hurt by competition from online retail, have been closing stores and filing for bankruptcy.

Retailer Kmart, a unit of Sears Holdings Corp SHLD.O, saw the most closings in the quarter, according to the report.

More companies including Walgreens Boot Alliance Inc (WBA.O), Toys R Us and GAP Inc (GPS.N) would downsize and/or close stores in 2018 while other retailers, gyms and service providers expand, offsetting the vacancies in some metros, the Reis report said.

Reporting by Pranav Kiran in Bengaluru

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