New Poll: 19% of Americans Are Tipping Less Than Before the Pandemic

While not the majority, that is not a small percentage

Kachka restaurant in Portland, Oregon
Chef de cuisine Francisco Leyva prepares take-out orders at Kachka, a Soviet-styled restaurant.
Leah Nash for the Washington Post

COVID-19 has affected restaurants across the country in a variety of ways. Some have grappled with reinventing their business models; others have had to invest in PPE and air filtration systems as an unexpected cost of doing business. Without an extensive system of federal support, restaurant owners and employees alike have had to contend with a difficult choice: put themselves at risk or face closure.

It’s a familiar narrative that’s played out along similar lines throughout the country in recent months — and one that’s left many advocates of the restaurant industry feeling frustrated. At least people are tipping more, you might say — and, in many cases, you’d be correct.

Not all cases, however. And based on the results of Fast Company‘s new Harris Poll, a substantial number of Americans are actually tipping less than they did before the pandemic began: 19%.

There are, admittedly, some valid reasons for that — someone who’s seen a deduction in their own income via a lost job or a decline in freelance work might want to tip more but be unable to do so.

The results of the survey include a lot of details worth pondering, including the fact that 21% of respondents are tipping more than they used to. The survey also suggests a shift in tipping behavior when it comes to takeout orders, and features quotes from restaurant workers who have seen tip amounts increase in the last few months.

The pandemic is a difficult time for everyone, but tipping remains vitally important, especially in moments like these.


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