It's Spring, and Wal-Marts are sprouting everywhere.


  The commercial real estate firm REOC reported today that Wal-Mart is driving the region's latest retail boom.  It says four new Wal-Mart Supercenters opened in 2013, five more are nearing completion in the coming months, and another two or three are set to break ground between now and this summer.


  That doesn't count new Sam's Club stores, and the two mini Wal-Marts, known as Neighborhood Market concept stores which are opening around the region.


  "There is no doubt that Wal-Mart is the dominant force driving growth in the San Antonio region right now," said Kim Gatley, Senior Vice President of REOC San Antonio, a locally-based full-service commercial real estate company.


  She says the Wal-Marts are creating 'mini malls,' as other retailers build up around them.  For example, the Helotes Center, which was built around the Wal Mart in the  Helotes Town Center, has added a Marco’s Pizza, Great Clubs, and Cash Store.


  Gatley says speculative retail centers are also opening up, mainly on the northwest part of the city.


  A lack of speculative projects has pushed the city's retail vacancy rate down to 10.3%, it's lowest level in nine years.


  By far the most booming area for retail is the northwest side, with more than 15 million total square feet of retail space, nearly double the amount in the second largest area, the north central, and boasting the lowest vacancy rate in down, 8.2%. 


  Downtown continues to struggle, with a vacancy rate of 17.3% on the lowest inventory of retail space in the city.