A good friend of mine in the retailing industry once told me, “Most of the time, perception is just reality turned on its ear.”

The reality around here on Shopping Center World is that I'm the new face on the block. It's a distinct honor to take over the editorial reins of this 30-year-old property. Thankfully I've been in the industry a long time, so perception and reality should merge nicely, but more on me later…

In the world of shopping centers — for better or worse — perception really counts for a lot. When you consider the many dynamics that are at work under one roof — merchandising, store management, maintenance, security — it's clear that success or failure in this business is based largely on consumer perceptions.

In these recessionary days, consumers may perceive trouble in mall land. Daily headlines tell of drastic discounts to move merchandise, mall closings (see our story on Atlanta's Avondale Mall closing on p. 6) and the woes of mighty retailers such as Kmart (more on its Chapter 11 filing on p. 18). But the reality of our business is much more nuanced. Our mission at Shopping Center World is to go beneath the surface and behind the numbers to tell you who's doing it right (and also not so right) when it comes to building and operating retail environments — and who's doing business inside them. It is the story of a complex industry, marked by a delicate interplay between retailers and shopping center owners, set against the backdrop of fast-changing consumer tastes.

A good example is our cover story on Gap. Here's another retail icon, a staple of malls around the world, that has found itself in serious hot water financially. We ask the tough questions that need to be asked — how will the troubles of the largest apparel chain affect shopping center owners and other apparel retailers? Will Gap reverse its slide? What should shopping center owners be doing differently in tenanting their properties to avoid becoming over-dependent on the next Gap, even if it turns out to be Gap?

It's stories like these that make SCW so relevant. We analyze the facts and figures that are shaping your world. And as we do that, guess who wins? You do, because you know you're getting the unvarnished truth behind the trends.

Remember this — I never said you'd always like what we print. You may not always agree with our analysis. But the fact is, we're committed to uncovering what lies buried behind the false perceptions to bring you the bottom line.

Hopefully, it helps that I'm no stranger to your world. I've been involved in the commercial real estate industry for 20 years now, as a journalist and editor for newspapers and magazines (including a 5-year stint as editor and publisher of SCW's sister publication, National Real Estate Investor), as a communications specialist, as a marketing genius (well, almost) and even a couple of more recent wayward years at two real estate dot-coms.

As editor-in-chief of Shopping Center World, I hope to marshal the lessons of my varied career to bring you the best coverage this magazine has ever produced. That's raising the bar pretty high, but then we're constantly reminded of the difference between perception and reality. The proof is in what we print.