Inflation and economic uncertainty are influencing consumer spending behavior, but support for restaurants continues. Although the number of consumers who typically tip restaurant staff 20% or higher is trending down, 41% of consumers report tipping more this year than last year—and 70% expect to be extra generous with gratuities over the holidays.
Popmenu, a leader in cloud-based restaurant tech, surveyed 1,000 consumers and 165 restaurant owners and operators across the U.S. in November 2022.
Tipping in 2022 vs. 2021
Tipping restaurant workers at least 20% became a new norm during the pandemic as consumers dug deeper to help struggling restaurants. Consumers continue to rally around neighborhood favorites, but tighter household budgets are impacting the size of gratuities in some cases.
- 43% of consumers typically tip servers 20% or more, down from 56% of consumers last year.
- 32% of consumers typically tip delivery drivers 20% or more, down from 38% of consumers last year.
“Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant knows how hard the everyday hustle can be and how much tips matter,” says Brendan Sweeney, CEO and Co-founder of Popmenu. “Tipping behavior may fluctuate depending on market conditions, but the intent to support restaurants remains strong and gratuity, in general, leans toward higher percentages today. Half of restaurateurs recommend that guests tip a minimum of 20%, and many consumers are more than happy to oblige, especially over the holidays.”
Tipping Over the Holidays
While mindful of household budgets, consumers expect to spread a little extra cheer for restaurant workers in November and December.
- One third (33%) expect to tip restaurant staff 25% or more during the holidays; 61% expect to tip 20% or more during the holidays.
- In addition to servers and delivery drivers, consumers say they also tip bartenders, hosts/hostesses, cashiers, bussers and kitchen staff.
Most Generous Cities for Tipping
Popmenu analyzed a sample of 1.1 million online food orders placed in the last 180 days to compile a list of top cities with the highest percentage of orders that included tips of 20% or more:
- San Francisco, CA – 34% of orders had tips of 20% or more
- Austin, TX – 32%
- Columbus, OH – 31%
- Louisville, KY – 30%
- Nashville, TN – 30%
- Seattle, WA – 29%
- Washington, DC – 28%
- Denver, CO – 27%
- Boston, MA – 27%
- Dallas, TX – 27%
- Chicago, IL – 27%
- Atlanta, GA – 27%
Advice for Restaurant Dining Over the Holidays
From Thanksgiving feasts to New Year’s toasts, restaurant owners and operators shared the following advice for guests dining at or ordering from their restaurants during the holiday bustle:
- Tip generously when you can (57%): Gratuity is the primary income for many restaurant workers. In addition to servers and delivery drivers, consider tipping other staff who provided an exceptional guest experience.
- Be patient (50%): Restaurants are short-staffed and doing their best to meet high demand. A little understanding can go a long way (and may even be rewarded with a free dessert or other perk on a busy night).
- Book tables early (49%): Restaurants recommend making reservations several weeks in advance and placing large online orders at least a few days in advance.
- Show up on time (49%): Seating delays cause added stress to staff and other guests and your reservation may not be honored.
- Expect to pay more (40%): Inflation continues to take its toll with 93% of restaurants reporting that they have raised or plan to raise menu prices.
Popmenu conducted two nationwide, anonymous surveys on restaurant dining. The first survey included 165 U.S. restaurant owners and operators and ran from November 4 to November 7, 2022. The second survey included 1,000 U.S. consumers, ages 18 and older, and ran from November 4 to November 5, 2022.