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U.S. retail mall vacancies flat in fourth quarter: Reis

An empty shopping cart is seen in a shopping center parking lot in Westbury, New York November 27, 2015. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

(Reuters) - U.S. retail mall vacancies in the fourth quarter were flat from the third at 7.8 percent, indicating that the retail real estate market is finally showing signs of a correction, real estate research firm Reis Inc said in a report.

Asking and effective rents rose in the most recent quarter, while rent growth rate was largely unchanged from the third at 0.4 percent, Reis said.

"In short, the fourth-quarter statistics show that the growth in e-commerce that has led to scores of store closures across the U.S. is truly starting to impact many retail property markets in a meaningful way," said Barbara Denham, senior economist at Reis.

The national vacancy rate for neighborhood and community shopping centers was also flat from the preceding quarter, at 9.9 percent.

Construction activity, however, decelerated with 2.05 million square feet of new neighborhood and community center space completed, the lowest level in the past six quarters.

Net absorption, which is measured in terms of available retail space sold in the market during a certain time period, more than doubled from the third quarter to 3.25 million square feet.

(Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)