Secret shoppers grade downtown MB businesses

Over the summer secret shoppers grades downtown MB businesses. / Lisa Edge

A secret shopper is someone who goes into a business posing as a regular customer, but the employees don't know they are under review. A report from two secret shoppers sent out by the Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corporation shows restaurants fared better than retailers.

During the peak of the tourist season, millions of visitors come to downtown Myrtle Beach. With the addition of the Boardwalk, traffic is up, and the MBDRC wants to make sure tourists are having a positive experience.

"In the tourism industry, the customer gets one bad meal, one bad product, and that's not good, because it's word of mouth," said David Sebok, Executive Director of MBDRC.

From June 15 to August 1 of this year, two interns went into 23 retail stores and 12 restaurants to grade them on several factors including greeting, environment, and handling of food or merchandise. On a scale of one to five, restaurants scored a four on average and stores a three.

"Customers are being treated well and should be satisfied with their service, but there are some individual establishments that could maybe work with an employee or work with their policy about how they deal with their customers," added Sebok.

According to the findings, in one instance a secret shopper was cursed out for asking for a receipt, and sometimes customers weren't thanked. Another concern, the level and type of music played in some stores. None of the restaurants had excessive wait times for food to be delivered.

"It was an occasional person that or clerk that wasn't very responsive or maybe was rude or something like that, by and large not," said Sebok.

The results for specfic businesses aren't being released to the public, but the MBDRC will present the results of the study to the individual businesses involved. They are also considering bringing in an expert to help businesses with merchandising and customer service.

Entertainment venues downtown like the Skywheel were not graded.