REITs have staged a multi month rally and now total returns are nearly in positive territory for the year. As of March 31, total returns on the FTSE NAREIT Equity REIT Index were down 31.87 percent. By the end of July, however, the index had nearly fully recovered and was down just 3.02 percent year-to-date.

In the retail sector, the results have been varied. As of the end of July, however, two of the three retail REIT sectors had entered positive territory for the year. The total return index for freestanding retail REITs is up 12.46 percent year to date. The total return index for regional malls is up 8.55 percent. The total return index for shopping center REITs, however, is down 21.13 percent. As a result, the total return index for retail REITs in all is down 6.00 percent.

In contrast, at the end of March, total returns for retail REITs as a whole were down 36.57 percent. Total returns were down for shopping center REITs (-41.62 percent), regional mall REITs (-36.92 percent) and freestanding retail REITs (-12.57 percent).

Despite the recent resurgence, retail REITs do remain well off all-time highs reached in 2007. Below are charts of the total return index and price index for retail REITs in general as well as the three sub-sectors through July 31, 2009.