(Reuters) - U.S. retail mall vacancies were flat at 9.9 percent in the first quarter of 2017, compared with the fourth quarter of 2016, as new construction fell to its lowest in six years, real estate research firm Reis Inc said in a report.
"... We remain cautious but do not want to overstate the problems in the retail industry," said Barbara Denham, senior economist at Reis.
Expectations have lowered for the retail real estate industry due to the rapid rise in e-commerce and store closures. However the full impact of the closures has yet to be felt, Denham said.
Construction activity fell by more than two-thirds in the quarter, with a paltry 796,000 square feet of new construction completed.
Asking rent inched up 0.3 percent, while effective rent rose 0.4 percent, Reis said.
Net absorption, which is measured in terms of available retail space sold in the market during a certain time period, more than halved to 1.25 million square feet.
The national vacancy rate for neighborhood and community shopping centers was flat at 9.9 percent.
Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel