A study analyzing tip generosity in the food service industry ranked Washington, DC, in the top 10 most generous cities.
The report, released this month by restaurant tech company Popmenu, analyzed data from more than a million online food orders placed in the U.S. over the past six months. Approximately 1,000 restaurant goers and 165 restaurant owners were also surveyed. That data was then used to determine which cities are seeing the highest percentage of orders that include tips of 20 percent or more.
Leading the category is San Francisco, where 34 percent of all orders included tips at or above that threshold. Next, in order, was Austin, Texas (32 percent), Columbus, Ohio (31 percent), Louisville, Kentucky (30 percent), Nashville, Tennessee (30 percent), and Seattle (29 percent). The District of Columbia’s rate of 28 percent was good for seventh best on the list.
Of course, service industry data may be skewed in places like San Francisco, where, as of August 2022, the average monthly cost of a one-bedroom apartment rental was $3,554. Also influencing tips has been the nation’s ongoing bout with inflation, which 40 percent of survey respondents say led to expectations of paying more. And they’re not wrong — over 90 percent of restaurants reported either raising or planning to raise menu prices.
“Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant knows how hard the everyday hustle can be and how much tips matter,” Popmenu CEO and co-founder Brendan Sweeney said in the report. “Tipping behavior may fluctuate depending on market conditions, but the intent to support restaurants remains strong and gratuity, in general, leans toward higher percentages today. Half of restaurateurs recommend that guests tip a minimum of 20 percent, and many consumers are more than happy to oblige, especially over the holidays.”
One-third of survey respondents said they expect to tip restaurant staff 25 percent or more during the holiday months of November and December, while 61 percent responded that they would give 20 percent or more.
And while DC is expected to fluctuate during the holidays accordingly, there is some belief that the city’s tipping culture could soon look much different once the service industry-oriented Initiative 82 is implemented.
The motion, which passed with 74 percent of the vote on November 8, will require DC employers to pay $16.10 an hour to employees who previously relied on a $5.35 hourly rate plus gratuity.
That plan is expected to be phased in over the course of the next five years.
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