Are Americans tired of tipping?  Yelp reviews show just how much
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Are Americans tired of tipping? Yelp reviews show just how much

(NEXSTAR) — While tipping in restaurants and bars has long been an accepted part of the American dining experience, lately customers say they feel the pinch of tipping more often than before. A popular phrase you may have heard is “tipflation.”

And while many restaurant patrons – especially those who have worked in tip-based jobs themselves – say they shouldn’t eat out if they can’t afford to tip, not all American consumers view service this way.

Yelp recently released its State of the Restaurant Industry 2024 report, which tracked restaurant user review data from May 2023 to April 2024. The analysis revealed not only an increase in self-service at even “nicer” restaurants, but also fatigue when it comes to for tips.

By looking at review data, Yelp found that there was a significant increase in customer mentions of tipping. Here is the difference in the occurrence of these expressions/words compared to May 2020 – April 2021.

Expression Increase
“Tips Screen” +811%
“Tip” +111%
“Tip was included” +91%
“Tips” +81%
“No tip” +71%
“I didn’t tip.” +63%

When it comes to the word “tipflation,” Yelp found that mentions of the word increased 399% between May 2023 and April 2024, Yelp says.

Data released Tuesday by YouGov also shows what Americans think about tipping. A YouGov survey of 1,148 American adults found that 62% of Americans tip 15–20% when they eat out and receive average service. Meanwhile, about 25% said they leave a tip of less than 15% for average service, including 4% who said they leave nothing.

So how did all this happen?

To start with, the Covid-19 pandemic has been devastating for the restaurant industry, and as a result, more and more Americans have stepped up to support their favorite places and frontline workers. Last year, in a survey by Forbes Advisor, 32% of the 2,000 Americans surveyed said they tip more than before the pandemic.

However, as the restaurant industry reopened, many customers did not disappear due to the “need” to tip more. Meanwhile, restaurants in general have not limited themselves to foregrounding tipping screens and/or automatic tipping. Then pandemic-driven inflation kicked in, and Americans are still feeling the effects of higher prices everywhere.

Inflation began to rise around 2021, and 32% of Americans surveyed by Forbes said they had started tipping less often. Meanwhile, 27% said they were tipping more, and 37% said the amount had stayed the same.

Given the state of the economy – not to mention the increasingly popular belief that restaurants (not customers) should be responsible for the wages of their employees – and the ubiquitous tipping screens, it’s easy to see where some adults might start to feel resentful.

“Almost every day when we buy a coffee or a sandwich, we are exposed to this app, this screen,” etiquette expert Diane Gottsman, founder of the Protocol School of Texas, previously told Nexstar. “So we have to get used to this form of payment… People think it’s manipulation, they don’t like it, and their perception of the services is decreasing.”

According to the Pew Research Center, a restaurant customer’s tipping mentality can be greatly influenced by whether or not he or she has ever worked for tips. Last summer, the center surveyed 11,945 U.S. adults to gauge their attitudes toward tipping compared to their prior work experience (or lack of work experience) in the service industry.

Pew found that about 57% of American adults suffer from it NO has experience in a tip-based job, and this group is less likely to understand how much they should tip or whether they should tip at all at all.

YouGov data also shows that younger adults are critical of waiters’ tipping performance less are likely to reduce their tips than older Americans. Although the most common reason for reducing tips across all age groups is “rudeness from staff,” only 68% of 18-29-year-olds said it would result in them tipping less.

Where Americans think they shouldn’t leave a tip

Although most of the 2,000 Americans surveyed by Forbes Advisor said they believed sit-down restaurants and food delivery drivers were an opportunity to tip, there were situations in which they believed tipping should not be expected.

  • Food trucks – 40% said they didn’t think they should leave a tip
  • Fast-casual restaurants – 38%
  • Takeaway food pickup – 36%
  • Cafes – 34%

However, as mentioned earlier, not everyone agrees on when and where to tip. Although 58% said they tip in restaurants, another 32% still believe that you should not always expect a tip from the person waiting at your table. Meanwhile, another 32% also said they didn’t think they should necessarily tip the delivery driver.

What to do You think?

Waiter’s salary

While the average server minimum wage numbers may look decent on paper — according to OpenTable, hourly wages actually increased to $18.71 between 2020 and 2022 — the reality behind these numbers is a bit different, as OpenTable notes.

For positions such as waiters, hosts, line cooks, bus drivers and bartenders, a flat hourly rate is usually set at a minimum level, known as a cash wage. As NerdWallet reported in January, the absolute lowest a restaurant can pay an employee for each hour is $2.13, and some do. The server’s wage is then considered to be equivalent to the federal minimum wage because tips from customers increase their hourly wage. However, the guidance is not consistent, which means some of the hardest working people in the restaurant could take the least home.

Nextstar’s Michael Bartiromo contributed to this story.