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Most Americans tip 15% or less at dinner, poll says

today 11/10/2023
The majority of Americans typically tip 15% or less for a meal at a sit-down restaurant, according to a recent poll by Pew Research Center. The survey of nearly 12,000 people found that 57% of US adults tip 15% or less, while 22% leave a 20% tip. Tipping amounts also vary based on factors such as income and age, with younger adults generally tipping more generously than older Americans. However, it is challenging to determine if Americans are tipping more frequently overall. There is no official data on the extent to which businesses rely on tips to compensate their workers or the percentage of workers who regularly receive tips. Tipping amounts have increased over time, with a 1922 etiquette book stating a 10% tip for a meal in a "first class hotel" and a 15% tip becoming the norm by the latter part of the 20th century. The practice of tipping higher amounts at restaurants is believed to have developed due to a cycle of competition among customers. Many people tip to gain social approval or to receive better service, leading others to tip more to avoid a loss in status or the risk of poorer service. However, the evolving landscape of tipping, with options to tip suggested on touch screens at various establishments, has made it more challenging for people to determine when and how much to tip. While 72% of individuals surveyed by Pew believe tipping is expected in more places now than five years ago, only about a third find it extremely or very easy to know the appropriate tipping amount for different services. Additionally, 40% of people oppose businesses suggesting tip amounts on screens. Tipping behavior also varies by business, with over 90% of people always or often tipping at sit-down restaurants, 78% when getting a haircut, 76% for food delivery, and 61% when taking a taxi or ride-share. However, fewer Americans consistently tip when buying a coffee (25%) or eating at a fast casual restaurant like Chipotle or Sweetgreen.
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