Mystery Shopping Tips During the Holiday Season


The holidays present some unique challenges for shoppers.  Most of these can be overcome with a little forethought, preparation, and planning.  Here are a few mystery shopping tips to keep in mind during December.


After the change from Daylight Savings Time in November, the hours available to conduct your on-site mystery shops before dusk decrease dramatically.  Gone are the days when it stays light out until almost nine p.m.  All off a sudden, you look around at 4:30 and realize that dusk is upon you!  During the summer months, it is not unusual to tour as late as 5:30 p.m.  However, most apartment communities do not allow their leasing agents to show apartments after dusk, so you must plan your winter shopping assignments accordingly.


  • Try to take advantage of the morning hours to conduct on-site shops.  Most communities open between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.
  • Incorporate travel time into your planning so that you arrive before dusk.  Don’t just plan to arrive at the community at dusk.  You will probably be told that you cannot tour if there is not sufficient time to see the apartment and the amenities before it gets dark.
  • Arriving before the threat of darkness will allow the leasing professional to make a full presentation without feeling rushed.  The agent should never feel they need to cut their presentation short.  Give them every opportunity to shine without pressure.


Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Hanukkah, Kwanza, and New Year’s Eve all occur during December.  The following things should be taken into consideration when scheduling shop contracts around these holidays.

  • Many employees take vacation time off during the holidays.  If you get a leasing professional on the phone today, he/she may not be in tomorrow.  Try to schedule your onsite shops on the same day you conduct your phone shop.
  • If you are not planning to visit the same day, ask the target agent if they will be in the following day.  If they say they will be off but their colleague can help you, try to work something out so that you can visit the community the same day.  If not, discreetly ask when they will return by saying something like, “Oh, aren’t you lucky!  How long will you be away?”
  • Keep in mind that most communities close on major holidays.  Know what holidays are coming up when you accept a shop contract and check your personal calendar to make sure you can shop before the holiday, or during the days following the holiday, depending on how soon you can reach the intended professional.
  • Sometimes businesses close on the day before after a holiday, too. If a holiday occurs on a weekend day, some businesses close on the Friday before or the Monday after the holiday.


Most apartment communities cannot show you an apartment when it is snowing outside if the amount of snow is significant.  During the cold weather months, check the weather report.  If it is snowing or snow is in the immediate forecast, do not schedule an on-site tour.  Stay in, stay warm and safe, and schedule your appointment for another day.


Some communities close early when it is snowing or right before a holiday.  If you are planning to visit late in the day, confirm that they are not closing early that day. Always, allow adequate time to travel safely to your destination if there is snow or ice on the roads.  Schedule your appointments accordingly so that you are not rushed. Wear appropriate shoes and dress in layers during the cold months.   If the sun is shining when you leave the house, your tour later in the day might be sabotaged if the weather turns cold.


Visit our mystery shopping tips page for additional strategies that work all season (and year) long.