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Poll: U.S. adults plan to tip service providers well this holiday season

And 45% say they typically give higher-than-usual tips to at least one type of provider


Holiday tipping is a great way to say thank you to hardworking people who provide us with services throughout the year. Find out now how many people plan to give back this season.

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COVID restrictions have eased in the past year, and people are getting back to “normal.” Consumers are going out and using services they previously weren’t able to, such as hair salons, childcare, restaurants and bars.

And, according to a new poll, U.S. adults plan to tip service providers at least $20 and up to $50 on average. Many said they would tip more than they usually do because it’s the holidays. Gen Zers were the largest group to say they’d tip more (51%), followed by millennials (48%), Gen Xers (43%) and baby boomers (42%).

“Holiday tipping is a really nice way to reward the hardworking people who make our lives easier throughout the year,” Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst for, said.

Service providers dealt with unusual challenges throughout the pandemic, with many losing income. If you can afford to do so, giving a little extra around the holidays could make a big difference, Rossman said.

These are some other key results from our holiday tipping poll:

  • Lots of providers will get extra. Of the 27% who said they would tip mail carriers more, the median amount reported was $20, while 19% said they’d tip trash collectors more ($20), 41% plan to tip teachers more ($25), 36% would give a landscaper more ($30), and 41% and 47% would give a childcare provider or housekeeper more ($50 for both), respectively.
  • Waitstaff for the win. Of the 45% of U.S. adults who said they would give bigger-than-usual tips during the holidays to at least one type of service provider, 27% said they’d tip waitstaff more, 19% said hairstylist or barber, 16% said food delivery person, 10% said bartender and 9% said coffee shop barista.
  • Shop locally. Almost nine out of 10 U.S. adults surveyed (87%) said they believe it’s important to shop locally as a way to support small businesses, including 93% of boomers, 88% of Gen Xers, 82% of millennials and 80% of Gen Zers. Additionally, women (90%) were more likely than men (84%) to say shopping locally is important.

The survey of 2,372 U.S. adults was conducted online between Nov. 3-5, 2021. See survey methodology.

This season will be critical for small businesses

The holiday season is of utmost importance for small businesses, since many have struggled during the pandemic, likely including a loss of income. Not only are big stores more equipped for online sales, but they can also weather supply chain disruptions more easily. So, if you can, shop your local stores.

“Shopping locally represents an important way to support your community,” Rossman said.

Melanie Musson, finance expert at InsuranceProviders, said the fact that the vast majority of adults believe it’s important to shop locally and support small businesses will turn into a win-win situation this holiday season.

It will be a win for local businesses because they’ll make money, and it will be a win for consumers because they can walk out of the shop with what they need rather than worrying if their items will make it in time for Christmas or will still be sitting in a ship offshore.

“I suspect that the older generations have a stronger desire to support small businesses because they have life experience that gives them personal memories of businesses that are hurting,” Musson said.

Perhaps they’ve had a friend whose business went under, or maybe they’ve experienced economic hardship themselves, she noted. And that personal understanding helps spur them to do what they can to support those in their community and shield them from hard times.

A likely reason, she said, for the generational disparity in shopping local relates to younger adults’ experiences with the internet. Younger generations are used to finding exactly what they want because they’ve always had access to everything online, while older generations were raised on physical shopping and typically enjoy browsing stores for something that strikes their fancy.

Holiday tipping is ingrained

Leif Kristjansen, founder and president of the personal finance website FiveYearFireEscape, came from a frugal family and turned into a frugal adult, but he always tips more at Christmas.

In almost every culture, Kristjansen said, there is a happy giving-based winter festival. Diwali, Christmas, Hanukkah and more.

“When I was growing up, the phrase I heard a lot around was, ‘It is better to give than to receive,'” he added.

And Kristjansen believes people think about this when they tip for services and when they shop for loved ones. It’s hard to fight decades of training to give more at Christmas, he said. “To be honest, I think we are all better for it.”

Bottom line

Sometimes we don’t think enough about the hardworking people who make our lives easier – everyone from delivery drivers to babysitters to the people who cut our hair, Rossman said. So, if you can afford it, it’s nice to give them some extra cash around the holidays.

If that’s not in the budget this year, maybe you can at least show your appreciation in another way, like writing a nice thank you card. You could even cash in some credit card rewards for a gift card to give or for cash back so you can get your favorite delivery driver a snack or a gift basket.

As they say, it’s the thought that counts.

Survey methodology commissioned YouGov Plc to conduct the survey. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 2,372 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken online Nov. 3-5, 2021.

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