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Restaurants, supermarkets, and stores devoted to health and fitness helped the local retail real estate market along the road to recovery over the last 12 months, KeyPoint Partners LLC said Tuesday.

A commercial real estate services firm headquartered in Burlington, KeyPoint has just issued its annual report on the sector. The KeyPoint Report for Eastern Massachusetts/Greater Boston 2013 examines supply, occupancy, absorption, and retailer expansion and contraction for retail properties in the region.

"This was a recovery year," KeyPoint Partners vice president of research Bob Sheehan said in a statement.

During the last year, "nearly two million square feet of unoccupied space was filled, which brought the vacancy rate to 7.8 percent, down from 8.9 percent a year ago, the largest drop in more than a decade," the firm said in a press release. "Market Basket led all retailers in square feet of expansion in the region, adding 230,000 square feet, while Subway ranked first in new store count, opening 34 units."


The 12-month period was notable for fewer store closings by large-format chains and "moderately healthy expansion by retailers," Sheehan said.

"When it comes to growth by retail category, it was food, food, and then some exercise," he added. "Eating Places topped the rankings in both new square footage and store count, Food Stores/Grocery ranked 2nd, and Health and Fitness came in 3rd."

Meanwhile, more construction is underway, with project openings scheduled for this coming year and the next.

"We can say with caution that things should feel more normal by the time we write next year's report," Sheehan said.

Chris Reidy can be reached at reidy@globe.com.