Could going shopping boost your income? How a ‘mystery shopper’ makes hundreds of pounds extra a year



Despite the cost of living crisis, some consumers could find themselves making hundreds of pounds a month, just by shopping.

Mystery shoppers can top up their earning, or even make a living from providing feedback to companies about their shopping experience.

It is a practice that has been around for years but could be attracting even more attention as people look to top up their purses as bills soar.

i speaks to mystery shoppers to find out how much they can make, how it works and how you can get involved.

How does mystery shopping work?

There are a number of different websites and apps people can use to sign up to mystery shopping, including Mystery Shoppers, iShop for Ipsos and Market Force.

People simply have to download an app or sign up on the website to be alerted of upcoming jobs. They do tend to go quickly so consumers are advised to be speedy.

In general, mystery shopping agencies are hired by firms to assess the service their customers are receiving including how well stocked they are and how well their customers are treated in store.

They will be told what to look out for and what to buy and they could also be asked to take photos.

This is also being expanded to online, as more people shop this way, to see how easy and practical retail sites are.

Consumers will be expected to shop as normal, albeit paying more attention to their surroundings, before submitting their feedback.

In return, they will get paid but how much can vary massively. Many firms will also pay for travel and food expenses.

Some apps no longer pay people but instead give them a budget to buy something in store, as part of the task, and will let them keep whatever they purchase.

‘I earn £700 to £800 a month’

Anna Maria, a 57-year-old mother of two, who is a full-time carer to her two children and uses Shepper to boost her household income.

Depending on childcare she can earn £700 to £800 per month with the money spent on buying things for her children, such as a sensory day.

“I love using Shepper, as I can manage the jobs I want to take up in my local community and get to know my local area and local businesses more.

“I’ve recommended it to friends and family who are looking to make extra income during the cost of living crisis.”

Anna Maria makes hundreds a month from being a mystery shopper (Shepper)

How much can people earn?

It very much depends on how much you can earn from app to app as well as how often you are able to complete tasks.

Whilst a few say they can live off their earnings, these are few and far between.

In general, it can be used to top up income instead.

However, one of the most popular apps is Shepper, whose app is the third most popular lifestyle app on the Apple store ahead of The National Lottery and Tinder with 100,000 “Shepherds” in the UK using it to top up their income.

It said the average income its members make per week is £100 and this is achieved without having to deviate from their day-to-day life.

Users will go into a shop, answer a small set of questions or perform a few basic tasks, feedback on the app and be financially rewarded with amounts of anywhere between £3 to £10 – but this can soon add up.

What makes a good mystery shopper?

A good mystery shopper will be diligent and observant as well as have a good memory as they may not be able to make notes the whole time they are shopping.

It is also important to avoid detection, so that staff members do not treat you any differently.

Shoppers will also have to be organised and keep to the deadlines set by the firms.

For those looking to make big money from mystery shopping, they should sign up to multiple sites and ensure they have enough time to complete all the tasks.

‘I used mystery shopping as a way to get out of debt’

Verena Hallam, 32, got into mystery shopping in her mid- twenties after finding herself in £13,000 of debt and was looking for ways to make extra money towards paying it off.

The SEO consultant who also started financial blog,, after trying to get out of debt, used apps Field Agent, Roamler, and Task 360, which is now called Be My Eye.

She said: “The mystery shopping tasks I did were quite varied, but to give a few examples there were regular tasks to take photos in supermarkets of product displays and answer questions about specific products.

Verena used mystery shopping to pay off her debts (Verena Hallam)

“I also occasionally completed tasks where I had to order food or drink in pubs or fast-food chains, which were great because I was reimbursed for buying lunch but also paid for completing the task and answering questions.

“Some tasks required interacting with staff, but many didn’t, and they were always clear about the requirements before accepting the task which was great, as I generally preferred the more incognito tasks.”

To ensure she didn’t miss out, Verena checked the mystery shopping apps every day and fitted in the tasks around what she was already doing that day.

“I would usually complete a task or two every week. Depending on the app, tasks paid anywhere between £2 to £10 for about 10 to 20 minutes work, and I made about £250 within a year.”

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