Council tests the Saffron Walden town centre pulse as mystery shoppers run the rule over businesses

MYSTERY shoppers have begun assessing the quality of service offered by Saffron Walden’s businesses as part of the community’s efforts to boost town centre trade.

The incognito customers are visiting shops in the town in the first of a series of moves designed to help hard pressed traders work out how they can best cope with the challenges posed by the current recession.

More than 80 traders attended a meeting organised by Uttlesford District Council and Saffron Walden Town Council last month to discuss the future of the town’s high street.

And the mystery shopper visits are the first step towards testing the town centre’s pulse by identifying and encouraging best practice.

Uttlesford District Council’s economic development officer, Simon Jackson, said: “The mystery shoppers are assessing the quality of service the town’s businesses are providing.

“To continue to compete successfully every single business in the town centre needs to provide the very best in service, product range and knowledge, pricing and appearance.

“We want to recognise and celebrate the service that everyone in the town provides and using expert mystery shoppers is a great way of doing this.”

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Saffron Walden Town Council clerk, Simon Lloyd, said the results of the mystery shopper initiative, the customer survey currently being undertaken, the town centre audit and market information provided by Experian would be shared with local traders.

He said: “We have arranged a second follow-up meeting for town centre businesses next month where we will share the findings of all the work that has been done since the first one.

“The information provided will underpin a town centre ‘action plan’ that will be created and delivered by local businesses in partnership with the district and town councils.”

The meeting will take place in the Assembly Rooms at the Town Hall on Monday March 11 from 6pm to 8pm.

It will be open to anyone who has a business or provides a service based in the town centre and no booking is required.

For information contact Mr Jackson on 01799 510521 or via e-mail at