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According to research, the majority of American restaurant-goers claim to tip less than the customary 20% of their bill; while 46% now admit to tipping less in general than they did 5 years ago.

Tipping in restaurants across the US may well be on the decline, as a new study has revealed that the majority of American consumers claim to tip less than the customary 20% when in restaurants; with over half explaining that waiting staff should ‘work harder’ to get better tips from them.

The study was conducted by vouchercloud as part of research into the spending habits of consumers, particularly in relation to tipping and additional charges. 2,612 men and women aged 18 and over from across the US took part.

Those taking part were initially asked to state how much they usually tip waiting staff when eating in a restaurant, based on the typical percentage of the total bill cost that they leave as tip. The top results were revealed as follows:

  • Nothing - 11%
  • Less than 10% of bill - 35%
  • Between 10-19% of bill - 29%
  • 20% or more of bill - 23%

According to the results, just under a quarter, 23%, claimed to tip 20% or more of a bill; whilst three quarters admitted to tipping less than this as standard in a restaurant.

All those who tipped less than 20% were asked why they didn't conform to tipping the widely- acknowledged customary amount. The majority, 57%, explained that they simply ‘couldn't afford to on top of the cost of a meal’, while 33% explained that they thought that waiting staff ‘didn't often deserve’ to be tipped that amount. 18% stated ‘why should I tip that amount when I don't get tipped for my job?’

When asked if they would ever tip 20% of a bill or more, the majority, 54%, said ‘yes, if waiting staff work hard to deserve it.’ 29% said a flat ‘no’.

All respondents were asked if their tipping habits had changed in the past 5 years, to which 46% said ‘yes, I tip a smaller amount now than I did five years ago.’ When asked why this was the case, 65% explained that their ‘financial situation had changed’, while 49% also said that they felt ‘service people should work harder to deserve tips’ nowadays.

Jessica Glaus of vouchercloud commented on the findings:

“It's widely thought that 20% is customary as a tip when you visit a restaurant, but it seems that consumers across the US just aren't happy with this anymore. Tipping isn't compulsory and more often than not is at your discretion- so never feel pressured into giving a certain amount. If the meal or service was awful, don't feel obliged to pay extra for the privilege- or feel bullied into parting with more of your hard earned cash than you need to! Money is tight across the nation, and it seems waiting staff may have to really work hard to prove their 20% tip would be worth it.”