The holiday shopping season is almost here. Mystery shoppers are in the stores all year ’round, so how does the holiday season affect what we do?
One big change that happens this time of year is that mystery shopping companies are anxious to get all assignments and reports completed and submitted well before the end of the month. They know that shoppers will be busy with holiday celebrations, and will not have mystery shopping on their minds. And their staff wants to be able to take a few days off and enjoy the holidays with their families, too, without worrying about the shops that are still due.
As a result, you will see a big push to get shops done early. Watch for lots of shops clustered in the first half of the month in both November and December. That does not mean that there will be no shops in the second half of the month, but they will be rarer than usual.
Some businesses cut back on their mystery shopping programs during the holiday season. That may be because they know that shopping at this time of the year is not the “typical” experience, or just because they do not want employees taking time to serve mystery shoppers instead of customers spending their own cash.
Other companies may add some additional shops to the rotation in preparation for the season. I have done pre-holiday mystery shops in past years where the purpose of the assignments was specifically to verify that the store was ready, with gift items and decorations stocked, staff trained to answer questions about those items, signage in place, etc.
And what about getting your own holiday gift shopping done? I have sometimes been able to pick up a few gifts while mystery shopping. At times they were even paid for out of the reimbursement I received for doing the mystery shopper job.
However, there is an important caution about doing your personal shopping while on assignment: Do not do anything that will distract you from getting the information needed to complete the secret shop report. If you are absorbed in deciding whether you should get the blue socks or the black socks for Cousin Larry, you may be missing important details, or not making yourself available to be approached by the sales staff.
The holiday season is almost here. Are you ready?