The importance of having trees in retail areas has been studied by the University of Washington (Wolf, 2005) which investigated the associations between trees and people’s response to shopping settings. The studies found that shoppers respond positively to trees in shopping areas, and that providing trees is an important investment for a retail community. The presence of large species trees positively influences the shopper’s perceptions behaviour as described in more detail here.
The studies indicate that shoppers do not purchase goods or services just to meet needs, but are increasingly interested in the experience of shopping. The appearance of the shopping area is an important part of creating a welcoming, interesting shopping environment and the most positive consumer response was associated with streets having mature, well-managed large species trees described as follows:
Visual quality – ratings of visual preference were lower for places without trees and much higher for places with trees, particularly when large trees form a canopy over the pavement and street to create a “sense of place”
Place perception – shoppers claim they are willing to travel more often, further and for longer times to visit retail environments with pleasant tree cover. Also, shoppers indicate that once arriving they will spend more time in a retail district with trees.
Product pricing – the people surveyed were willing to pay 9 to 12 percent more for goods and services in shopping areas with large, well-cared for trees.
For retailers, a good quality public environment can improve trading by attracting more people into an area. It has been shown, for example, that well planned improvements to public spaces in town centres can boost commercial trading by up to 40 percent and generate significant private sector investment. (DoE ( now part of Defra) and The Association of Town Centre Management, 2007).