Consumer Trends

Consumers are getting burned out on tipping

More than half of people say they’re getting tired of tip requests as their own finances worsen, according to a new survey.
The average consumer is asked for a tip five times a week, according to Popmenu. | Photo: Shutterstock

Consumers are starting to get sick of tipping. 

The average person is being asked for a tip five times a week, according to a new survey by tech supplier Popmenu, and more than half (53%) say they’re getting tired of it.

Tipping in restaurants, once largely reserved for places with table service, has spread to other types of concepts as operators look to boost employees’ pay, and as digital technology makes it easier to ask. The trend has not been limited to restaurants either: There have been reports of grocery stores, plumbers and bridal shops asking for tips. 

This has led to both frustration and confusion among consumers. Just a third of Americans said it was “extremely easy” to know when to tip, according to a survey of 12,000 people published last week by the Pew Research Center. More than a quarter, meanwhile, said it was “not at all easy.”

Despite all of that, consumers had generally shown a willingness to tip well at restaurants coming out of the pandemic. Last August, data from tech supplier Toast found that the average restaurant tip had risen to 19.7% nationwide, suggesting that 20% had become the new standard, at least for dining in. 

But more recent data shows that standard could be backsliding. In June, full-service tips on Toast dipped to 19.4%, their lowest level since the start of the pandemic. And 57% of people told Pew that they would tip 15% or less for an average sit-down meal. 

The constant barrage of tip requests, plus consumers’ own worsening financial situations, could be taking a toll. More than 6 in 10 people surveyed by Popmenu said they were living paycheck to paycheck, for instance. That has coincided with a drop in tipping. Just 26% said they tip delivery drivers 20% or more, down from 32% last year and 38% in 2021. 

Forty-two percent, meanwhile, said they leave a 20% tip for servers. That’s similar to last year (43%), but down significantly from 2021, when 56% reported doing so. 

About 30% said they still tip restaurant staff more than they did a few years ago, according to Popmenu. 

Could the holidays provide a lift? Quite possibly. Sixty-seven percent of respondents told Popmenu they plan to tip 20% or more during the holidays this year, and nearly 30% plan to go up to 25% or more.

The Popmenu results are based on a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers earlier this month.

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