Should You Tip More During Inflation?

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People everywhere are feeling, and have been feeling, inflation pains throughout this year. From the gas pump to weekly groceries, prices are rising in every industry on almost anything one can purchase. 

As prices rise, so comes the question of whether or not you should tip more when dining out, going to the salon or barber or ordering from a delivery app. Does the current state of inflation mean consumers should consciously tip more? Let’s explore the answer.

Consumers Are Already Tipping More

Consumers may not be aware of it, but they are already tipping more in the current state of inflation.

Here’s how it breaks down. The Producer Price Index found food prices have increased across the board in 2022. A few percentages of increases include 22% for grains, 36.4% for cooking oils and 43.9% for beef and veal. Restaurants and dining establishments, in turn, have adapted by increasing menu prices to pass some of the excess costs onto consumers.

The baseline for diners tipping servers is 18% to 20% in the United States. Sam Zietz, CEO of Grubbrr, said if tipping percentages remain the same, higher check averages mean higher tip percentages. 

“If you tip a restaurant server 20% of your bill, you’ll be tipping more when the total goes up,” said Zietz. “This way, when the price of food rises, the price of tipping automatically rises with it.”

Make Your Money Work for You

What You Can Change: Your Number Related to the Scale

If increasing prices means automatic tip increase, what should consumers do? 

Jodi R.R. Smith, president and owner of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, said consumers can change their number related to the scale.

Here’s an example of what she means by this. Let’s say a diner goes out to eat at a restaurant. Their tip should still be around the 18% to 20% baseline. If the diner decides to tip at 25% they can do it. Tipping at 25% does not change the standard guideline of the 18% to 20% tip.

Always Practice Generous Tipping

Whether you decide to tip 20% or 25%, it is always a good practice to be a generous tipper. Create a budget allowing for generous tips when you decide to dine out. Remember: your tips go a long way in ensuring the livelihoods of service workers and the hospitality industry as a whole.

“If the service was stellar and/or you are feeling particularly magnanimous, you can and should tip more,” said Smith. “The thing to remember about tipping is if you are able to tip generously, you should.”

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