Study: Washington is second-lowest tipping state in nation

Sep 22, 2023, 3:28 PM

washington tipping...

(Photo courtesy of Toast)

(Photo courtesy of Toast)

Washington qualified as the second-lowest tipping state in the country, tipping an average of just 18.0%. California (17.4%) was the only state that was stingier.

Restaurant tipping rates across the U.S. took a dip in the second quarter of 2023, according to the Restaurant Trends Report published Sept. 12 by the restaurant software company Toast. The firm reports the average restaurant tips servers received across all 50 states was 18.9% for the second quarter of 2023, slightly down from 19.0% in the year’s first quarter.

Following California and Washington, Nevada (18.2%) and Florida (18.3%) had the third and fourth-lowest average tipping rates.

Delaware has the highest average tip rate of 21.5%, followed by Indiana and Kentucky — both tied at 20.6%. Delaware was also the highest-tipping state when Toast conducted this study in 2021, whereas California was the lowest that year as well.

Is tipping getting out of control? Many consumers say yes

Looking at potential ‘tipping fatigue’

Toast cited three reasons for the decline in tips: increased “tipping fatigue” among consumers, a rising cost of living due to inflation, and restaurants’ introduction of service charges.

“Suddenly, these screens are at every establishment we encounter,” etiquette expert Thomas Farley told The Associated Press. “They’re popping up online as well for online orders. And I fear that there is no end.” Farley described the modern climate of tipping, with the inclusion of screens and mobile pop-ups, as “an invasion.”

Some experts believe tipping is being driven, in large part, by changes in technology that have enabled business owners to more easily shift the costs of employees directly to customers.

“I don’t know how much you’re supposed to tip and I study this,” Michael Lynn, a professor of consumer behavior and marketing at Cornell University, said, according to a 2022 CNN story. Lynn is one of the leading researchers on U.S. tipping habits.

According to a June survey by Bankrate — a company with financial editorial content and product comparison tools — nearly one in three Americans believe that tipping culture is now “out of control.” Experts believe tipping culture in the U.S. has curdled recently once a new phenomenon flanked many shoppers, digital tip jars.

“Few topics elicit as many passionate opinions as tipping,” Ted Rossman, a Bankrate senior industry analyst, said. “There’s so much confusion regarding who to tip, and if so, how much. A lot is changing, as technology makes it easier to tip some people and harder to tip others – as travelers who are short on cash can attest.”

Gee Scott on tipping: ‘You’re getting no tip’ if restaurant has service charges

In the book “Emily Post’s Etiquette,” authors Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning advised consumers to tip on ride-shares, like Uber and Lyft, as well as food and beverages, including alcohol. But they also write that it’s up to each person to choose how much to tip at a café or a take-out food service, and that consumers shouldn’t feel embarrassed about choosing the lowest suggested tip amount, and don’t have to explain themselves if they don’t tip.

“The American public feels like tipping is out of control because they’re experiencing it in places they’re not used to,” Lizzie Post, co-president of the Emily Post Institute, said, according to CNN. “Moments where tipping isn’t expected makes people less generous and uncomfortable.”


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Study: Washington is second-lowest tipping state in nation