Consumers are tired: Research shows that they are tired of paying more as a result of inflated menu prices, and they’re tired of paying unexpected fees—whether through delivery app service charges or unexpected surcharges tagged onto a bill at a restaurant. New data from Pew Research Center shows that the public’s “fee fatigue” may extend to gratuity as well.
According to the Pew Research data released in November that surveyed 12,000 U.S. adults, seven out of 10 Americans agree that tipping is now expected in more places than ever before, including at coffee shops, limited-service restaurants, and other services. More foodservice companies than ever before are adding suggested tipping options to the checkout line, like Starbucks, which rolled out a universal tipping and employee recognition platform across its store portfolio at the end of 2022.
But just because it has become more common, doesn’t mean it’s easy for consumers to know exactly how to navigate the changing landscape of expected gratuity. Pew Research Center data shows that two-thirds of consumers are not confident in knowing exactly how or when to tip for different types of services. Customers are also split on how pressured they feel to leave a tip: Around one-fifth of Americans surveyed say they still feel tipping is a choice, whereas 29% of those surveyed feel obligated to leave a tip. The majority, however, say that it is situation-dependent.