U.S. News: Sherry Jarrell Explains Why Americans Are Tipping More

10.23.2012 Article, Faculty News

Americans Are Tipping More Now Than Before the Recession
What factors are playing a role in the spike in tip values

Reposted from U.S. News | by Susan Johnston

Despite lingering unemployment and other economic hardships in many parts of the country, studies show Americans are actually leaving higher tips. According to Zagat, the average restaurant tip has increased from 18 percent in 2000 to 19.2 percent in 2011. However, Americans are also dining out less since the recession (3.3 meals per week in 2006 compared to 3.1 in 2011).

Sherry Jarrell, a professor of finance and economics at the Wake Forest School of Business, says better tips may be partly a function of fewer—and cheaper—restaurant meals. "People may choose a cheaper option just because of the state of the economy, but they feel for the waitress or waiter and will go ahead and tip the usual amount even though the total bill has gone down," she explains. "People are going out less often, so the few times they do go out, they feel more comfortable being generous."

Jarrell speculates that as more women pick up the tab, they may be more inclined to leave a higher tip. She says this is especially true if they've waitressed in the past and can empathize with the server.

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