Mackman Research was commissioned by a social sector recruitment agency to mystery shop 22 (undisclosed) general stores, in Suffolk. The mystery shopper was asked to purchase cigarettes, alcohol, or a kitchen knife (sharps).

The purpose of the mystery shop was to test the proof of age I.D. request at each store within the 25 years and under policy.


A 21year old male researcher conducted the mystery shopping. He wore smart / casual clothing. During the mystery shop exercise it was found that the store group no longer stock kitchen knives or any other sharp implements, therefore purchases were made of cigarettes and alcohol only.

The mystery shop exercise was conducted in one day during the hours of 10am and 4.20pm.


Precisely half of the mystery shopped stores failed to ask our researcher for I.D. when purchasing either cigarettes or alcohol. Our researcher made detailed observations at each location. He noted that there were two occasions where I.D. was requested but it appeared to be a last minute gesture that was prompted by text on a till screen. In addition, the majority of stores which did not request I.D were found to be located in areas where there appeared to be a high density of social housing. Mackman Research provided the client with strong results to support an in-house assignment.