Survey: Majority of Americans likely to tip higher than normal this holiday season
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Most people agree that adding gratuity to a bill is standard at bars, restaurants and cafés, especially when the product is delivered quickly or the service is done well. During the holiday season, many people also give cash to other workers in their lives as a way to say thank you for providing excellent and important services.
And while inflation continues to squeeze consumers’ budgets, the spirit of giving remains strong. Bankrate’s November 2022 Holiday Tipping Survey found that 54 percent of all U.S. adults say they’re likely to give higher-than-normal tips around the holidays to service industry employees (for example, restaurant waitstaff, hair stylists/barbers, bartenders, and food delivery people).
Housekeepers and teachers may get the most tips in 2022
The holidays are a great time to express your gratitude for the service providers in your life. Bankrate’s survey found that housekeepers are most likely to receive gifts from their employers, with 56 percent of people who have a housekeeper planning to tip them or give them a gift during the 2022 holiday season. This is a sizable hike from 47 percent who said the same when we asked in 2021*.
Teachers, too, may plan for a little extra money. The survey discovered that 51 percent of people who have a teacher in their lives will be gifting or tipping them this year, compared with 41 percent in 2021.
There’s good news for all workers within the categories we inquired about, though. Across the board, U.S. adults who use each service were more likely to say they planned to give a holiday gift or tip this year than last:
- 49 percent of people with childcare providers are planning to tip or gift, up from 41 percent in 2021
- 41 percent of people who employ outdoor service workers such as landscapers, gardeners and snow removal technicians plan to tip or gift during the winter holiday season, an increase from 2021 when just 36 percent planned to.
- 31 percent of those with mail carriers say they plan to tip or gift them, versus the 27 percent who planned to in 2021.
- 22 percent of those using trash and recycling collectors will likely tip, and only 19 percent planned to last year.
Tighter wallets may translate into smaller tips
Despite a higher number of U.S. adults planning to tip service providers, the actual dollar amount may not be as impressive as in previous years. The survey found that, of those who plan to tip, the median amounts have shrunk compared with 2021.
The biggest projected decline is for childcare providers, who may see the size of their tip cut in half: the median planned gratuity is $25, a steep change from last year’s $50. Another notable change is in store for housekeepers, whose anticipated median tips shrunk from $50 to $40 year-over-year.
Smaller differentials will be seen for people who work outside the home. Among those who plan to tip, the median amount for landscapers, gardeners, and snow movers may is $25 rather than the $30 they got last year. Teachers who were likely to get a median per-person tip of $25 last year may only get $20 in 2022.
Despite the general decline, some workers can expect the same amount in tips as last year. The survey found that mail carriers and trash and recycling collectors will likely get the same $20 per household they received in 2021.
“I know that money is tight for a lot of households right now due to high inflation and rising interest rates,” says Ted Rossman, Senior Industry Analyst for Bankrate. “But if you can afford it, I think it’s nice to tip generously around the holidays.”
Tipping for traditional service providers may rise
Although not everybody has a housekeeper, kids in school, or hires people to work around the yard, almost everyone does business with service providers who do traditionally rely on tips. The good news for these workers is that they can anticipate more generous end-of-the-year gratuities than they received in 2021.
According to the survey, 54 percent of U.S. adults say they’re likely to give higher-than-normal tips around the holidays to service workers who are customarily tipped throughout the year. This includes restaurant waitstaff, hair stylists and barbers, bartenders, and food delivery workers.
So, which generation will be the most generous this holiday season? The survey found that millennials will take that honor. 62 percent of people in this age group are likely to tip more around the holidays. 54 percent of Gen Zers, 53 percent of Gen Xers and 48 percent of boomers say they will increase their tipping amount this year.
Consider tipping valued workers, but know that not all can accept cash
Even a small gift of cash can make a big difference to service providers, and the holidays are a perfect time to show your appreciation for a job well done. How much you give as a tip is up to you, your financial capability and what’s customary for the occupation.
“If you have a regular service provider that helps you throughout the year – perhaps a dedicated housekeeper or a hair stylist you really love – it could be customary to give a holiday tip equal to the cost of one service,” says Rossman. “For others, such as a mail carrier, trash collector or your child’s teacher, our data indicate that giving around $20 could be appropriate.”
And while few would reject a fistful of bills, a gift card can be more tactful. If you have a rewards credit card and have accumulated cash or points, you can usually trade them in for gift cards in a variety of increments. This strategy can help ease your own tight budget, too, since you won’t be using money allotted for your expenses.
Finally, be aware that some companies, such as FedEx and UPS, frown upon their employees accepting tips in the form of cash. In such cases, Rossman suggests gift baskets of snacks and soft drinks as welcome tokens of appreciation. A little creativity to show you care can go a long way.
*Note: Our 2021 results were published on our sister site, CreditCards.com.
Bankrate.com commissioned YouGov Plc to conduct the survey. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 2,425 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between Nov. 9-11, 2022. The survey was carried out online and meets rigorous quality standards. It employed a nonprobability-based sample using quotas upfront during collection and then a weighting scheme on the back end designed and proven to provide nationally representative results.