Americans get tired of leaving big tips – The Hill

The story at a glance


  • Traditional tipping etiquette dictates that customers tip their servers an extra 15-20% at the end of their meal, whereas there is generally no requirement to tip for takeout.

  • Many people supported their local economy at the start of the pandemic by increasing their tips at local cafes, convenience stores and favorite takeaways.

  • Yet a recent survey found that tips in several categories have fallen below pre-pandemic levels.

Americans were happy to overtip during the pandemic. But with inflation pinching their pockets, the signs that Americans want to tip less are growing.

Many people supported their local economy at the start of the pandemic by increasing their tips at local cafes, convenience stores and favorite take-out outlets – the latter a once novel idea.

But now experts say there’s a perfect storm of factors, including inflation and a lack of COVID-19 incentives, leaving more and more “cranky consumers” waiting for exemplary service before shelling out a little more at the end.

Traditional tipping etiquette dictates that customers tip their servers 15 to 20 percent more, before taxes, on top of the cost of their meal, according to etiquette site Emily Post.

Yet a recent CreditCards.com survey found that tips in several categories have fallen below pre-pandemic levels. The number of customers surveyed who said they always tip decreased by 4 percentage points, from 77% in 2019 to 73% in 2022. 4% said they never tip.

“Inflation is reducing consumers’ purchasing power and a tight labor market has left many service industry companies understaffed and struggling to deliver top-notch customer experiences,” the agency said. then Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com.

Soaring costs at the pump and rising prices at the grocery store also mean less disposable income across the board, which can mean less money for the often underpaid service sector workers who rely on tips from customers for their survival.

Yet restaurants too are feeling inflation and supply shortages and are responding by raising menu prices, making it less attractive for customers to add a tip to their bill. Customers are also seeing other service disruptions.

The big resignation has played a significant role in ongoing service issues, write Andrew Moreo and Lisa Cain, professors of hospitality at Florida International University, in an analysis of the hospitality industry’s burnout. They noted that hospitality workers have fueled the so-called Great Quit, citing low wages, long hours and weekend shifts as major factors pushing workers out of the industry.


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Moreo told Changing America in an interview that the decline in customer experience might offer another element to explain the decline in customer tipping habits.

“Customers are not getting the service they are used to. Menus have shrunk and prices have gone up. A lot of times they come in and what they want off the menu, even if the item is still on the menu, maybe they’re left out due to supply chain issues,” Moreo said.

“People wait longer to be seated, or the whole service takes longer because they are understaffed. Not enough servers, not enough cooks. So I think their overall experiences have unfortunately gone down as well,” Moreo added.

Moreo said he learned in conversations with colleagues and industry associates that tips were popping up in unusual areas like takeout and at the coffee counter as frontline workers offered what was considered in 2020. as essential services.

Generally, according to Emily Post, there is no requirement to tip for take-out services, except in cases where there are large or special orders.

But even Moreo, who has spent time in the hospitality industry, said his views on tipping are changing, particularly when it comes to takeout, as the United States emerges from its pandemic economy.

“But, you know, even me, someone who’s in the industry, definitely backed off. My perspective is that I see tipping as a reward for great service and a great experience,” Moreo said. “And if I just call an order and pick it up, what real service did you provide? Where was the extra touch? Where was the little extra that should really deserve that tip?”

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Posted on June 21, 2022

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