(NEXSTAR) – To say it was a tough two years for the restaurant business is to say nothing. During periods of outages, supply chain problems and staff shortages, restaurants asked customers to help keep the business afloat and gain patience.
This patience can be exhausted if the amount of tips that people leave indicates that.
Data provided by Square and analyzed by Nexstar show that the percentage of tips in both fast-food and full-service restaurants declined after the pandemic peak. (Square is a digital payment company. If you pay for food or coffee on an iPad or smartphone, it’s often Square.)
Data show that the average percentage of tips jumped between February 2020 and April 2020 from 19.73% to 22.22% in fast food restaurants. Generous tips for takeaway orders were touted as a way to express gratitude to frontline workers in those early months of the pandemic.
Tipping in full-service restaurants – at least those that were able to stay open – also rose from 19.45% to 21.2%.
These inequalities may seem insignificant, but even a few extra percentage points per transaction add more advice to catering workers.
The graph below shows what has happened since the peak of the pandemic: a fairly steady decline in the number of tips, and in December 2020 near the holidays there was one explosion.
In April 2020, people tipped an average of 22% in a fast food restaurant to 18.6% in August 2021. Again, this may not seem like much, but it’s a 16.4% decrease.
Tipping in full-service restaurants has not dropped so dramatically. They fell by about 10% after their peak. At the same time tips in full-service restaurants are now at a level lower than before the pandemic.
“None of this surprises me at all,” said Joe Monastera, chief operating officer of the Texas Restaurant Association. “If you think about the restaurants that were opened in the first days of the pandemic, even if our restaurants reopened [in Texas] in May 2020, we continued to ensure that customers were very generous and considerate. ”
The monastery said it had heard that many visitors tip up to 30% to express gratitude to the restaurant staff. He now believes that in most urban areas tips are reduced in the range of 20-22%. In rural areas a little lower, about 18-20%, he calculated.
Square provided data by August 2021, but said the company “found that since then, the tea order has remained largely stable.”
The convent is concerned that visitors are using reduced tips as a way to express dissatisfaction with restaurants, which may suffer from staff shortages, supply chain problems and higher business costs.
“Our entire tip system in the U.S. should be a reflection of the services you received at this restaurant. This should not be the way you express dissatisfaction with the quality of the food or the atmosphere, or if you feel that the host has made you wait too long until you sit down. It’s just server performance. “
The monastery encouraged people to practice patience and kindness while eating. And if you have problems, “do not connect the server and its salaries, ask to talk to the manager.”
One silver in the tip data: although people can give smaller amounts than before, it seems they give more often. Square has provided Nexstar with data showing how many people tip on all kinds of transactions – not just restaurants, but also bars, beauty salons, retailers and other services. In March 2020, about 54% of Square transactions were tipped. In August 2021, it was up to 67%.