A sunny Saturday about a month ago, I had a slew of errands to run. It was beautiful outside and this seemed like an annoying way to spend the day. I realized I had two choices: 1) go to the strip mall or big box department stores or 2) go to my beautiful, tree-lined downtown shopping district and make a day of it.
I called up my friend and asked her to meet me for lunch at Teddy’s Bistro, a cute soups, salads, and sandwiches joint with outdoor patio seating and big oak trees that provided much-needed shade. All of a sudden my day was perking up. I knew my friend would be tempted to accompany me the rest of the afternoon and we would likely spend the day wandering in and out of stores. Maybe we’d even grab an ice cream later in the afternoon, while sitting on one of the shady benches talking about life.
Doing Better Business
My day wasn’t a unique experience—research shows that trees make businesses pleasant places to shop. In fact, shoppers will actually spend more time and money in stores surrounded by trees than in stores without trees. And, the amenity and comfort ratings are about 80% higher for treed businesses districts versus barren ones.
This is great news for businesses because trees are cost-effective, making them sound business investments. Studies have shown that shoppers will also travel farther, stay longer, and more often frequent business areas with trees because doing so yields a positive overall experience for them. Trees that are well-maintained send positive signals to shoppers about the quality of products and customer service and in the end, affects sales.
In the mind of a customer, the area outside of a store or restaurant is an extension of that place of business. Business owners should keep their trees and landscaping in mind, just as they do other important elements that attract customers. Just like the layout of their store or their window displays and packaging, healthy trees can mean big business!
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is best summarized in research by Dan Burden, a senior urban designer, who states, “Businesses on treescaped streets show 20% higher income streams, which is often the essential competitive edge needed for main street store success.”
Other studies have found compelling quantifiable support that makes the case for businesses to invest in trees, including:
- Positive ratings on interaction with merchants on customer service issues are about 15% higher;
- People are willing to pay about 11% more—both for impulse-buy convenience goods (e.g. lunch sandwich, flower bouquet), as well as bigger ticket, comparison-shopped items (e.g. sports shoes, new glasses); and
- Ratings regarding the quality of products are 30% higher.
Trees can offer businesses a competitive advantage and have been shown to be worth the investment. My personal experiences reflect these findings: That day last month, it did in fact take me a bit longer to get there. I did purchase more items that initially planned. And yes, when I thought about it later, maybe I did spend a few more dollars…but, I had a great day and will most definitely be going back!