Income, age, and other factors influence pandemic-era tipping behavior.

While restaurants have faced no shortage of difficulties since 2020, they’ve also been buoyed by the support of loyal patrons. According to a new report by Home Run Inn, 49 percent said they were tipping more, compared with 42 percent who tipped the same and 9 percent who tipped less.

Based in Chicago, Home Run Inn is a nine-unit pizzeria and a frozen pizza CPG brand—but it’s also a data hound.

“We have always been focused on developing resources that have the ability to inform and entertain anyone who is interested in learning more about various topics within our industry,” says Gina Bolger, senior vice president of branding at Home Run Inn.

Indeed, the company released another report in 2020, which focused on families’ dining habits at the height of the pandemic. The newest one, based on a survey of more than 1,000 Americans, examines how demographics influence tipping habits.

For example, respondents ages 60 and older were most likely to tip more while young adults (ages 18–29) were least likely. Sixty-two percent of households with incomes more than $100,000 increased their tips, but only 45 percent of households earning less than six figures did so.

Job history played a role, too. Twenty-eight percent of consumers said they were tipping more because they had previously worked in tip-earning positions.

Broader empathy also influenced respondents, with 61 percent reporting they changed their tipping behavior because they empathized with the plight of foodservice employees.

“The study sheds light on people’s ability to sympathize and empathize with restaurant and foodservice employees as they work during the course of the pandemic,” Bolger says. “Despite many individuals being impacted by the pandemic, they’re recognizing that those who are working in the restaurant industry should be supported and rewarded for their hard work and dedication.”

Interestingly enough, gender was also a significant predictor; 70 percent of women cited empathy as the reason for tipping more, but only 52 percent of men did.

As far as on- and off-premises are concerned, consumers may be slightly more generous when dining on-site. Although 40 percent said they tip the same amount when ordering online as dining out, 34 percent reported it would be a lower amount and 18 percent said they wouldn’t tip at all.

Online ordering and off-premises sales are here to stay, but these findings further elucidate just how much value guests place on eating out.

“Based on the data in the report, we are encouraged that consumers will continue to support those working in the restaurant industry,” Bolger says. “The trend of increased tipping is here to stay for the foreseeable future.”

Feature, Labor & Employees