The highest inflation in four decades is undermining the custom of tipping everyone from housekeepers and childcare workers to teachers and landscapers for the holidays.
Consumers say they are trimming their annual year-end tips for most service workers, according to a new survey from Bankrate.com. Childcare employees are likely to feel the biggest impact, with Americans planning on giving $25 each, down from $50 per childcare provider in 2021, the study found.
Even so, more consumers said they plan to hand out holiday tips this year compared with 2021, which could help balance out the smaller gratuities, noted Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst for Bankrate. For instance, about 56% of people said they will tip their housekeepers this year, up from 47% last year.
"People have less money to go around, but there is this civic duty that people realize this is a shared burden: 'I have to give something, although maybe I can't give quite as much as I want or as much as last year'," Rossman said.
Tipping may be the norm when it comes to leaving gratuities at restaurants, but holiday tipping isn't as widely practiced. For instance, only half of Americans plan to give their children's teacher a tip this year, while about one-third said they'll give to their mail carrier, Bankrate found.
One reason may be anxiety over how much to give and whether such tips are appropriate, Rossman noted. "Tipping is notoriously confusing. You can smooth out awkwardness by going in with a group gift — that is the bet option for teachers."
Americans also may be feeling tapped out amid "tipflation," or when consumers are faced with more tip requests in unusual places, such as drive-through windows. This accelerated in the pandemic with the spread of digital kiosks, which also provide pre-set tip amounts.
"We found 26% of people tip more when presented with pre-set tip amounts," Rossman said. "Some people resent tip creep."
Here's how much Americans plan to tip for the holidays this year compared to in 2021:
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