CBRE Econometric Advisors measured the availability rate at neighborhood, community and strip centers (which it defines as space that is actively being marketed and available for tenant build-out within 12 months) at 13.1 percent at the end of the first quarter—the highest level in the past decade. But it is projecting that the rate will begin to fall starting in the third quarter and end the year at 12.7 percent and fall another percentage point in 2012.

Rents, meanwhile, fell to $19.09 per square foot and will bottom at $18.94 per square foot in the first quarter of 2012.

The low point in the availability rate during the last cycle was 7.7 percent in the first quarter of 2006. Prior to that, the availability rate's previous low was 7.0 percent in the first quarter of 2001. Rents, meanwhile, peaked at $21.70 per square foot in the first quarter of 2008.

Source: CBRE Econometric Advisors