Americans Eating Out Less, Tipping More

November 2, 2012  |  


Zagat, the restaurant rating guide, finds that Americans are tipping more than they used to. In 2000, the average tip was 18.2 percent. In 2011, that figure is 19.2 percent.

However, Americans are also dining out for fewer meals, on average; from 3.3 per week in 2006 to 3.1 in 2011.

A Wake Forest business school professor, Sherry Jarrell, tells Business Insider that sympathy is to blame. More people feel bad for a hard-working server. And with the bill for eating out on the decline, tips increase. There could be some empathy mixed in as well. Former servers may feel they should tip a little more.

The story goes into further detail about tipping practices according to where you live and economic status. For African Americans, tipping has become one more topic of cultural significance: Do black people tip less? It’s a topic we’ve covered here on Madame Noire. Our writer talked about her days as a waitress, being run ragged and then stiffed by a table of four African Americans.

Over on The Root, the author suspects that her African-American customers simply didn’t know that 20 percent is standard. Moreover, the writer thinks that frustrations about racism are to blame.

“I found that the tables that demanded the most tipped the worst,” the author says. “It became painfully clear that I gave my distressed guest an opportunity to feel superior.”

Not tipping because service was poor is justified. But not tipping just because is not. If you’re going out to dinner, budget a tip into what you expect to spend.

Are you a decent tipper? And if not, why?


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  • Joules

    I like to think I’m a decent tipper. Assuming the waiter / waitress was partially attentive and the drinks stayed filled, I “start” at five dollars or twenty percent, whichever is higher. If the waitress went out of their way to make sure we were happy, food had to be sent back, they were very charming etc etc, I tip more. It’s not unusual for me to leave a ten dollar tip on a fourty dollar bill. Bad service, I don’t tip at all. I just write on the receipt why they weren’t tip and leave.

  • Meyaka

    I tip depending on my experience at the restaurant,customer service is always the primary factor; if the waitress or waiter is rude or incompetent,I give a bad tip,but if my server is being helpful and pleasant I’ll tip them well.