It’s not just your imagination. More places ask you to tip
More and more stores are now offering customers the option to tip, from cafes to ice cream parlors.
About 48% of quick-service restaurants like Starbucks, Panera and McDonald’s now offer customers the option to tip, according to data released this month by Toast, a restaurant management software company. That’s up from 38% in 2020.
But Americans tip less.
The tipping percentage for quick service restaurants last quarter was 15.9%, compared to 16.4% last year.
People tip less partly because of inflation, experts say. They’re also overwhelmed by the number of places that give them the option to tip with a card on an iPad, leading people to be less generous.
Customers and workers today face a radically different tipping culture than just a few years ago – with no clear standards.
Although consumers are used to tipping waiters, bartenders and other service workers, tipping a barista or cashier may be a new phenomenon for many shoppers.
This is largely due to changes in technology that have made it easier for business owners to shift worker compensation costs directly to customers.
In addition to the changing dynamics, customers have been encouraged to tip generously during the pandemic to help keep restaurants and stores afloat, which has raised expectations.
The shift to digital payments has also accelerated during the pandemic, leading stores to replace old-fashioned tip jars with tablet touchscreens. But those screens and digital toggle procedures proved more intrusive than a low-pressure tip jar containing a few dollars.
Customers are overwhelmed by the number of places they now have the option to tip and feel compelled to tip and for how much. Some people deliberately walk away from the screen without doing anything to avoid making a decision, say etiquette experts who study tipping culture and consumer behavior.
Tipping can be an emotionally charged decision. Attitudes towards tipping in these new contexts vary widely.
Some customers tip no matter what. Others feel guilty if they don’t tip or embarrassed if they tip poorly. And others avoid tipping a $5 iced coffee, saying the price is high enough.