New Data Reveals Diners Are Tipping Less Than Before The Pandemic

Of all the industries affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurant industry has borne a significant amount of the brunt. With many eateries forced to close or significantly alter their operations in 2020, the industry continues to face challenges two years later. According to Fortune, since the start of the pandemic, an estimated 90,000 restaurants closed permanently, 5.9 million restaurant workers lost their jobs, and nearly ¼ of people living in the U.S. stopped dining out. Today, many independent restaurants still struggle to meet their quotas, and ongoing issues such as inflation and supply chain disruptions haven't helped to ease the burden.

As U.S. restaurants struggle to regain lost ground, another complicating factor is affecting worker morale. According to NBC affiliate KXAN, recent data has revealed that, on top of eating out less often than before the pandemic, restaurant diners aren't tipping as much when they do dine out.

Restaurant tipping is down more than 16% since 2020

According to a recent article published by KXAN, people in the U.S. are tipping less at restaurants when they eat. Data provided by the payment processing application Square, which was analyzed by the media group Nexstar, reveals that in April 2020 diners left an average 22% tip at quick-service restaurants. But by August 2021, that average tip went down to 18.6% — a decrease of more than 16%. The average 21% tip left at full service restaurants in April 2020 went down to 19% by August 2021.

This is a deviation from a trend that established itself early in the pandemic, KXAN reports, when restaurant diners were extra-generous in their tipping as a way to express gratitude for food service workers who continued to clock in under precarious circumstances. According to Joe Monastero, chief operating officer of the Texas Restaurant Association, diners at that time were leaving large tips of up to 30%. But now that much of the world has reopened and normal life is resuming, diners seem less inclined to leave such juicy tips.

The return to lower tipping percentages might not come as a surprise, but these numbers are down from pre-pandemic tipping averages (though not by a large margin). According to the data, quick-service tips are down .72% and .27% at full service restaurants from January 2020.