As of early 2010, the U.S. mystery shopping industry employed some 1.5 million secret shoppers, and demand is only on the rise. According to BBC News, the global market has grown by 40 percent over the past two years.
However, with the slow pace of economic recovery, conditions remain uncertain. While consumer confidence has been fluctuating - falling to a three-month low in March after a three-year high in February, according to the Conference Board - spending and retail sales remain slow.
The most recent Gallup consumer spending report shows a slight increase in buying, as Americans spent an average of $65 per day in April, up slightly from $64 per day in March.
"It seems unlikely that the nation's retailers will be able to match their May 2010 sales levels," wrote Dennis Jacobe, chief economist at Gallup, "and, simultaneously, it is increasingly likely that the slowdown in economic growth during the first quarter will continue in the months ahead."
However, the mystery shopping industry, with a value in the hundreds of millions of dollars, remains one of the accurate and effective market research strategies, suggesting the need to implement such technique in order to stay informed on the latest consumer trends.