It has been a remarkable year for the retail real estate industry. A weak economic recovery and the specter of war didn't keep consumers out of the stores. Americans drove in their new cars (bought with zero down, 0% loans) to the power centers and the malls to load up on furnishings for their new homes or fresh trappings for their newly refinanced old ones. It was a recession-defying act of willful consumption.

But, as the year winds down, it seems that the consumer is ready to take a breather. In “The Year Ahead in Retail Real Estate,” starting on page 18, Associate Editor David Sokol takes an in-depth reading of the industry as it enters the new year. We present the story from two points of view — focusing on the basic trends in retail in the first story and how they will play out for the owner/developer/investor community in the second. We hope you will find it a useful roadmap for 2003.

On this page you will see a new face. This is Beth Karlin, who is assuming the title of editor in chief of Shopping Center World. Beth, a distinguished financial journalist who has covered technology for BusinessWeek, retail and finance for The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News and even celebrity gossip for People, is a gifted editor and manager. As managing editor, she played a key role in revamping SCW's sister publication, Registered Rep. magazine, which was honored in October with an Ozzie Award at the Folio: Show for best redesign. Beth, who hails from Chicago, still visits Old Orchard — where she developed her passion for shopping — when she's in town. She has lived — and shopped — in Boston, New York, Brussels and London and brings a fresh, sophisticated eye to the retail real estate business.

Based in the New York headquarters of Primedia Business Magazines and Media's Financial Services Group, Beth has big plans for the magazine in 2003 and beyond. “Retail is the most exciting business in the world to cover and the amazing changes that are going on in store development and retail real-estate formats make this a great time to bring solid business journalism and consumer-quality packaging to our audience,” she says. “SCW will continue to bring the most useful insights into this dynamic industry, but we will strive to do it with a lot more pizzazz and flair — to make this book as fun and fascinating as the business itself.”

The management of Shopping Center World thanks our readers and business partners for your support in 2002 and look forward to working with you in 2003.