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    Mystery Shopping Worth $600 Million

    DALLAS -- The mystery-shopping industry made an estimated $600 million in the United States in 2004, according to a recent Market Size report. Companies that participated in the report experienced an average growth of 11.1 percent from 2003 to 2004, and the average growth in the number of shops during that period was 12.2 percent. The report estimates more than 8.1 million mystery shops were conducted in 2004.

    DALLAS -- The mystery-shopping industry made an estimated $600 million in the United States in 2004, according to a recent Market Size report. Companies that participated in the report experienced an average growth of 11.1 percent from 2003 to 2004, and the average growth in the number of shops during that period was 12.2 percent. The report estimates more than 8.1 million mystery shops were conducted in 2004.

    The "2005 Mystery Shopping Market Size" report was commissioned by the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), a trade association that improves service quality through the use of mystery shoppers. The report represents the first attempt to quantify the size of the mystery-shopping industry.

    "Almost everyone involved in the mystery-shopping industry has experienced tremendous growth in recent years," said John Swinburn, MSPA's executive director. "As the flagship trade organization for the mystery-shopping industry, the MSPA decided to quantify that growth. The results outline exactly what we expected -- a large and growing industry with exciting prospects for the future."

    The report revealed mystery-shopping revenue by industry. The retail industry was strongest -- 16.8 percent of total mystery shopping revenue came from the retail industry, followed by banking/financial (14.2 percent), fast food (14 percent), and gas station/convenience store (11.8 percent).

    The industry growth between 2003 and 2004 identified in the report is expected to continue, according to a recent survey of mystery-shopping executives. More than 50 percent of executives surveyed during the 2005 MSPA Annual North America Conference expect to see a year-over-year growth of 5 percent to 15 percent or more in the retail, restaurant, and financial services industries from 2005 to 2006.

    The research and preparation of the resulting report were conducted by Columbus, Ohio-based, Industry Insights, a survey research firm specializing in serving trade and professional associations and their members.

    Mystery shopping is conducted in almost every industry -- quick-service and high-end restaurants, hotels and resorts, banks and financial service providers, apartments, convenience stores, chain and specialty retailers, home builders, self-storage facilities, health care organizations, and grocery stores. Mystery shopping providers help businesses design, implement, and evaluate mystery-shopping programs, as well as coordinate the assignment of mystery shoppers to conduct shops.

    --From Convenience Store News

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