ORANGE COUNTY, CA-Shopping center construction here rose sharply in the second quarter but lease rates at retail projects grew even faster, according to a new report by CB Richard Ellis.

Three new shopping centers were completed in the second quarter, the brokerage firm’s report says, pushing the county’s inventory of retail space up by 665,000 sf to a total of 71.5 million. That raised the countywide retail vacancy rate to 8.09% at the start of the third quarter from 7.51% in the first three months of the year.

Nonetheless, the report says, average asking lease rates rose 8% in the second quarter to $1.67 psf per month from $1.55 in the first quarter. Many retail outlets throughout the county have seen their sales skyrocket over the past several months, thanks to the region’s strong economy and record levels of consumer spending.

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