Post-pandemic, Americans are tipping less generously for takeout

on Sep1
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Why tipping is an American custom

At the Sweetly Bakery & Cafe in Battle Ground, Washington, near Portland, Oregon, customers seem to be feeling a little less generous lately.

With inflation near record highs and consumers increasingly cash-strapped, a gratuity isn’t what it used to be.

“Since everything got more expensive, we’ve seen a decline in tipping,” said Sweetly’s owner, Irina Sirotkina.

The Sweetly Bakery & Cafe in Battleground, Washington

Source: Irina Sirotkina

‘Point-of-sale tipping is what people resist the most’

Part of it is tip fatigue.

Eric Plam

founder and CEO of Uptip

“Part of it is tip fatigue,” said Eric Plam, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based startup Uptip, which aims to facilitate cashless tipping. 

“During Covid, everyone was shell shocked and feeling generous,” Plam said. Now, “you are starting to see people pull back a little bit,” he noted, particularly when it comes to point-of-sale tipping, which prompts customers to tip even before they’ve received the product or service.

“This point-of-sale tipping is what people resist the most,” he said, “compelling you to tip right there on the spot.”

Service workers rely on tips to boost wages

A landmark bill in California aims to raise the minimum wage to up to $22 an hour for fast-food and quick-service workers at chains with more than 100 locations nationally. California’s current wage floor is $15.50 an hour.

President Joe Biden and many Democratic lawmakers have pushed for a $15 hourly wage floor across the U.S. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and has remained unchanged since 2009.

“We are sympathetic but it doesn’t feel good,” Plam said of point-of-sale tipping. “Now that the pandemic is essentially over, its starting to shake out now,” he added. “The good news is we’re rethinking it.”

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