A survey reveals how American diners are not as keen to tip waiting staff as previously assumed.
Tipped-wage workers rely on the generosity of their customers to make sure they can take home a living wage, but perhaps customers are feeling the squeeze these days as the survey reveals they are less likely to tip on top of the bill as was been the tradition in the country.
The survey on ‘financial etiquette’ by TD Ameritrade explored the subject of which workers customers were most likely to tip and surprisingly, just 82% of respondents said they typically leave a tip for waitstaff at restaurants.
The results point to a generational change in tipping culture with 91% of baby boomers saying they tip restaurant staff. Only 81% of Gen Xers and 72% of millennials said they leave a tip for the waiters after their meal.
Tipping makes up the shortfall in waitstaffs’ wages with many making a reduced base salary based on the reliance on customers to fill the gap. The tipping culture, which is unique to the United States, has propped up the US restaurant industry for generations and allowed non-skilled workers to make a living through hard work alone.
There is much debate over whether the onus should lie on the customer to ensure the waiter can make a living wage and many also underline the fact that kitchen staff usually don’t take a share of tips at the end of the day.
However, restaurant industry staffing is in crisis, especially in kitchens. Chefs, especially good, experienced ones are hard to find and even harder to keep, but this trend may point to a mounting problem in front-of-house as well.
With most restaurateurs already to the pin of their collars with costs, the reluctance of customers to stump up extra for service could have a knock-on effect of forcing owners to increase wages and therefore prices. Price hikes could put people off from eating out and push them towards the already booming food delivery platform instead.
However, it’s not only restaurant waiters who are getting ‘stiffed’ by customers these days as the survey revealed that some workers are faring even worse. Only 61% of respondents said they typically leave a tip for bartenders and just 45% said they tip taxi drivers. The age-old tradition of pushing dollars into the bellboy’s fist looks under threat too as only 35% said they tip hotel workers.