A Pandemic-Era Practice
Tipping for certain services like eating out or getting a haircut has always been a common practice. But tipping surged in popularity during the pandemic, as many buyers went above and beyond to show gratitude to essential workers putting themselves at risk.
Since then, more and more businesses have hopped on the trend. Now, it feels like every store you visit has an iPad prompting you to leave a tip of 20%, 25%, 30%, or more. And there’s some data to suggest it’s not just a feeling — tips at counter service restaurants grew 16.7% year-over-year in 2022, according to payment processing giant Square (SQ).
But with pandemic lockdowns over, consumers are starting to feel frustrated at being asked to dish out an extra 20% for everything they buy — especially with the inflation rate hovering near its highest point in decades.
One leading cause of frustration for consumers is the fact that tips are becoming more and more public.
Traditionally, tipping has been fairly private — a number scribbled on a restaurant receipt just before you leave. But nowadays, the tips you give appear on the screen of a digital checkout processor that anyone within eyesight can see – including the workers. Consumers might not necessarily want to tip at these establishments, but they also don’t want to look stingy or rude.
Another issue is that leaving a tip everywhere you go can quickly eat into your budget. If you always tip 20%, you’re essentially being taxed an extra 20% on top of everything you buy. With this in mind, it’s sometimes necessary to say “no” without feeling guilty.
When and Where to Tip
Everyone has a different financial situation, which will ultimately influence the decision on when and where to leave a tip. However, etiquette pros recommend always leaving a tip for ridesharing services like Uber (UBER) or Lyft (LYFT), as well as for sit-down dining options. Other businesses, like a cafe or take-out food service, fall into a gray area and are up to your discretion.
For industries where it’s not always clear if you should leave a tip, one good idea is to reserve tipping for larger orders. For example, if you are picking up coffees for your entire office, go ahead and leave a tip. But if you’re just grabbing your morning Americano, it’s not really necessary to leave anything extra.
At the end of the day, just do your best to give what you can, when you can — especially when you feel a tip has been earned.
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