Americans vowed to tip more during the pandemic. They didn’t.

Fewer Americans are leaving tips for restaurant servers, hotel housekeepers and other hospitality industry workers versus before the COVID-19 pandemic, despite vowing to be more generous, a new survey found.

At restaurants, 73% of Americans said they always tip, down from 77% in 2019, according to a survey from Creditcards.com. Americans today are also less likely to offer gratuities to food delivery people, taxi and rideshare drivers, and coffee shop baristas than before the health crisis, when a larger share of survey respondents said they always tip such workers. 

“It was surprising because over the past couple years in our surveys, one-third of Americans told us they would tip more generously,” senior Creditcards.com analyst Ted Rossman told CBS MoneyWatch. “It hasn’t played out that way.”

One reason that could explain the decline in tipping, according to Creditcars.com, is inflation. Also, many service industry businesses are grappling with staffing shortages, which can result in less than stellar experiences for customers. 

“We know the service industry business is under pressure, and it may be that they are not providing the best service and that’s reflected in the tips,” Rossman said. 


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Meanwhile, many lower-paid workers remain largely out of sight and have relatively little interaction with customers, reducing their tips.

“For example, hotel housekeepers are tipped so little even though they don’t get paid a lot and work very hard,” Rossman said. 

Only hairstylists and barbers have benefited from improved tipping habits, according to the survey — 66% adults said they always tip their hairstylist or barber, up three percentage points compared to 2019.  

“Sometimes people create a deep relationships and there is a loyalty of no one else is going to touch my hair because it’s an important part of my identity and appearance,” Rossman said. “A lot of other things are more transactional.”

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