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Economics & the Visual Environment: Better for Business

Ugly is Bad for Business!

Things that uglify a place–such as billboards, litter, and graffiti–scare away customers. Uncontrolled billboards and unregulated on-premise signs overwhelm us with competing advertisements. Rather than being informative, “sign-clutter” distracts the consumer; and no message gets through clearly.

Across the country, municipal planners know that business districts thrive the most when steps are taken to preserve and enhance their character and appearance. And according to Edward T. McMahon, director of the American Greenways Program, “A good sign code is pro-business, since an attractive business district will attract more customers than an ugly one. Moreover, when signs are controlled, merchants do a better job of selling and at less cost.”