"We see 2011 as a year of gradual growth and one for preparatory work more than opening of new outlets and we are cautiously optimistic," Jim Tsagalis, Lease Equity's managing director, said.
"We expect it will be the third or fourth quarter before there is a significant improvement in activity levels and by 2012 we are expecting development approvals to be in place and quite a lot of retail development."
According to Lease Equity's data, retail rents managed to plateau through the global downturn and little has changed since then.
"I don't think there were any real reductions, although some adjustments and incentives crept into the market," Mr Tsagalis said. "Now there is an expectation there will be gradual growth but there's no talk of rent reductions."
While city retail vacancies remain very low, especially in pedestrian malls, Lease Equity says those that do become available are taking up to 30 per cent longer to be leased.