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Retail real estate improves, a little

Bahrainis walk at a mall in central Manama.

Jeremy Hobson: Thousands of retailers, developers and lenders are meeting in Las Vegas this weekend for a retail real estate convention. During the recession, shoppers abandoned malls for online deals and discount shops.

But now that trend is reversing as Marketplace's Janet Babin reports.


Janet Babin: The International Council of Shopping Centers says people are spending more at the mall -- 3 percent more than last year.

Ben Fox is a retail real estate broker with Massey Knakal Realty Services. He says the hottest topic at the shopping center conference this year will be how many people actually show up.

Ben Fox: Two years ago, you could roll a bowling ball down the central hall.

Attendance has rebounded, but still isn't back to pre-recession levels. Fox says that pretty much sums up the state of retail leasing. His deals are up, but he admits that Internet shopping has stolen some of the mall's luster.

Fox: It accounts for a growing number of sales. But at the end of the day, people enjoy the socialization of going to the mall.

Fox says retailers, though, have actually turned to the Internet too, using exclusive online deals and mobile coupon apps to attract in-store shoppers.

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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