The 27 U.S. Retail REITs posted total returns of 4.51 percent, which puts the sector on pace to have its third straight positive year after declines in 2007 and 2008.

The total return index at the end of the February stood at 627.42 and is up 189 percent since bottoming out at 216.82 in February 2009. However, the index remains 29 percent below its all-time peak of 878.58 reached in April 2007.

The retail REIT price index, meanwhile, has risen 167 percent since February 2009 from 81.14 to 216.79 and remains 40 percent below its all-time peak of 363.25 reached in February 2007. The dividend yield for retail REITs was 3.26 percent at the end of February

Source: NAREIT