Fast backward to Lake Forest, Illinois, 1916. Chicago architect Arthur Aldis called a trend when he convinced Cyrus H. McCormick, Jr., to form the Lake Forest improvement trust to build Market Square. It was to be a shopping complex of 28 stores, 12 office units, 30 apartments and recreational facilities — a new hub for a wealthy village that was moving rapidly into the automobile age. Market Square became, according to the National Register of Historic Places, the first planned shopping district in the U.S. Aldis may have also created the first traffic jam in an American suburb.

Fast-forward to the present. Retail real estate development has morphed into a giant industry that includes more than 2,000 malls and shopping centers in the U.S. — a force that has reshaped towns and cities and the American culture. Retail sales last year topped $1.23 trillion, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.

So much has changed — and continues to as we develop, redevelop, and generally rejigger properties to keep up with consumer preferences. On the other hand, nothing has changed: It all boils down to generating store traffic.

Welcome to Retail Traffic.

Retail Traffic is more than a new moniker for Shopping Center World. SCW was the first independent voice to cover the dynamic growth of the shopping center industry when it was launched in 1972. And it has kept up with every twist and turn along the way. But we realized over the past few years that the world of retail real estate has moved beyond the ideas that can be summed up as “shopping centers.” Indeed, it is interesting to note that among the innovations that have broadened the scope of the business is precisely the type of mixed-use development that Aldis created for Lake Forest.

Retail Traffic will go wherever real estate, retail and development meet, whether that's in an enclosed mall, an airport, a downtown or a new format that we don't yet know about. Wherever they go, Geoff Lewis, our editorial director, Beth Karlin, our editor in chief, and her amazing team of writers and designers will seek to send back snapshots of the future of retail development.

How will they do that? Well, largely by talking with the retailers, developers, brokers, consultants, architects, designers, lenders, contractors and analysts who have been our loyal readers and advertisers. Retail Traffic will strive to be the magazine of ideas — not the defender of the status quo or protector of sacred cows.

We know that solid journalism, smart analysis and clear insight are what will help our customers succeed in this challenging business. We hope to always be able to go beyond telling you what happened — to explain why and, most important, what is going to happen next.

To this end, we call on not only the 30-year tradition of SCW bur also the expertise we derive from our Primedia brain trust. You will see more of our ongoing collaboration on with American Demographics, the most respected source of information on shifting demographic trends. And we are particularly excited about the added resources we will bring to you with our new Web site, the Retail Traffic Network.

In addition to online access to the print magazine, exclusive news coverage and other original online fare, the site will provide a seamless link to other Primedia resources in real estate and marketing: National Real Estate Investor, Catalog Age, Promo, Direct and About.com Retail Industry. Check out our Website, retailtrafficmag.com to begin to see that through Retail Traffic most sides of retail are covered.

Finally, I'd like to invite you to spend time with this premiere issue of Retail Traffic. From our new, expanded news section (Traffic Reports) in the front to Parting Shots, a new feature at the end of the book, you'll find a great new look, sophisticated writing and analysis and, most of all, information that you can use. Be sure to check out our helpful Case Studies and the cover package, “The Mall of the Future.” It isn't science fiction. It's what you should be working on today.

Warren M. Bimblick
Senior Vice President and Publisher
wbimblick@primediabusiness.com