"The reason for (the increase) is really the shopping centerbusiness really trying to catch up with all of the housing growththat has taken place," says Andy Bulson, report author and VP atMid-America. Sporting good stores and food stores led the increase,Bulson says. Two new Bass Pro Shops and two Cabela's opened in theChicago area this year, he says. The increase in sporting goodstores in the Chicagoland area is likely "because Chicago waspreviously an underserved market in that category," Bulsonsays."

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Additionally, while people buy sporting good accessories atthese stores, they also buy a lot of apparel for everyday wear, hesays. The size of shopping centers is also increasing. An averageshopping center is now 300,000 sf, and it's common to see centerswith between 600,000 sf and one million sf of space, Bulson says.While 20 years ago a 200,000-sf to 300,000-sf center was consideredhuge, now big box stores such as Wal-Mart and Menards are around200,000 sf, he says.

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Bulson says that he thinks retail will move slower next year."We are coming off a period of heavy expansion," he says. "Youcannot sustain that kind of growth indefinitely. It is going toslow down at some point"

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The amount expected is still way above the annual average. From1983 through 2006, the annual average of new shopping center spacewas more than 4.9 million, Bulson says. "While the Midwest'seconomy has been slowing down, Chicago has a very robust anddiverse economy with a lot of people," he says.

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