Most Americans tip 15% or less at restaurants, and some don’t tip at all

Most Americans tip 15% or less at restaurants, and some don’t tip at all

  • Fifty-seven percent of people stay 15% or less for a meal at a restaurant, according to a Pew Research Center poll.
  • Of those, 37% said 15% was the standard tip and 18% tipped less than 15%. Pew found that there is no additional tip of 2%.
  • Restaurant meals are the most common service. When we tip, it’s often because of social approval rather than quality of service, one expert said.

Thomas Barwick | Digital Vision | Getty Images

When it comes to dining, tipping at least 15% to 20% is standard etiquette, experts say.

It seems that many Americans disagree with this opinion.

Nearly 1 in 5, or 18%, of people tip less than 15% for an average meal at an outdoor restaurant — and an additional 2% tip nothing at all, according to a Pew Research Center poll, which polled 11,945 people. American adult. More than a third, 37%, said 15% was the standard tip.

“It surprised me,” said Drew D. Silver, co-author of the study, which found that more than half of people, 57%, tip 15% or less.

He added, “The United States has a more developed tipping culture than most other countries.” “But there is a lack of agreement on this matter.”

Pew has not done a historical survey on tips, so it’s unclear how these stocks have trended over time.

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Americans are more likely to tip for a sit-down meal than for any other service: Two-thirds of U.S. adults always tip a server when they eat, according to Bankrate. The Pew survey found that 81% always tip for a meal at a restaurant, a higher percentage than those who tip for a haircut, food delivery, buying a drink at a bar, or using a taxi or ride-hailing service, for example.

Etiquette expert Diane Gottesman recommends tipping 15% to 20% for restaurant service in 2023.

However, studies show that “tipping fatigue” has led to a recent decline in tipping amounts. For example, the average tip nationwide at full-service restaurants fell to 19.4% of total checks in the second quarter of 2023 — the lowest amount since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Toast data.

The percentage of people who always tip restaurant staff fell by 4 percentage points from 2019 to 2022, according to Bankrate.

“People’s willingness to tip, even in restaurants, is declining,” said Michael Lin, a professor at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and an expert on consumer behavior and tipping.

Americans became more generous in the early days of the pandemic, embracing the practice as a way to help service workers and employers. “They’re fed up now,” Lynn said.

“You can understand why: We are asked to tip for circumstances and services that are not traditionally tipped,” he said. “And the amounts we are asked to tip are higher.”

The proliferation of hint prompts has become known as “hint creep.” It comes at a time when pandemic-era inflation — which peaked last year at a high level not seen in four decades — has put pressure on household budgets.

One challenge with tip amounts is that there is no “central authority” to direct standards, Lin said.

Most people — 77% — cite quality of service as a “major factor” when choosing whether or not to tip, according to Pew.

However, Lin said service is ultimately a poor indicator of consumer behavior; Social approval – from our dining partners, service staff and others – is a much stronger determinant.

“We buy approval” with tips, Lane said.

Only 23% of Pew survey respondents cited social pressure as a major factor.

(Tags for translation)Personal Spending

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