Urban ecologists are fond of reciting the benefits of trees in the big city: they reduce storm water runoff, absorb pollutants, increase real estate values, and make neighborhoods more attractive. But a recent study (pdf) shows that urban trees may have an unexpected bonus for city shopkeepers:  apparently shoppers are willing to pay extra to shop near trees.

UW professor Kathleen Wolf showed photos of retail streets with and without trees to inner-city residents across the US and asked how much they would be willing to pay for a variety of items at each location. The study participants perceived shops on treed streets not only as better maintained and having a more pleasant atmosphere but also as likely having higher quality products.

These perceptions may translate into more business, because participants also said they were willing to drive farther to those shops (expanding the customer pool) and to pay more for parking. And most important for the bottom line, trees may lead to higher prices: on average, participants said they were willing to pay nearly 12% more to shop on treed streets than on treeless ones.

So add happy store owners to the benefits of maintaining trees in the city.