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Tips are declining as COVID recedes and inflation rises

Inflation is taking a bite out of tipping. During the height of the pandemic, consumers were exceptionally generous to service workers — handing out bigger tips that totaled as much as 30% of the total to delivery and restaurant workers, taxi drivers, manicurists and others. But as COVID-19 recedes and rising prices settle in, tipping is taking a hit, according to new data from point of sale provider, Square. The latest US inflation rate hit 7.9% — the highest in 40 years — underlining just how much prices have risen over the past year. Those rising prices look to be hitting tips: The beauty industry has seen tips decline to 24.9% of the tape total from 25.4%. And tips at quick-service restaurants — a category that includes cafes and coffee shops — declined to 15.2% in February from 17.2% in March 2021, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Still, consumers are not scrimping on servers at sit-down restaurants — yet. Square’s data shows that tips on average at sit-down restaurants rose to 21.2% from 20.6% from March 2021 to February. “There’s been no decline in our tips,” Zane Tankel, chief executive of Apple Metro, which operates 34 Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bars in the New York Metro area, told The Post. “If anything, our tips are better than they were pre-COVID.” Ditto for burger joint Schnipper’s, which runs two eateries in Manhattan. They’re mostly self-service. Schnipper’s installed new point-of sale-technology during the pandemic that allows customers to leave a gratuity on a card transaction for the first time. “The tipping is extraordinary,” said co-owner Andrew Schnipper. “Our cashiers are earning $40 and $50 an hour since we installed the technology.” The cashiers, who ring customers up, wipe down tables and bring food to a table may get a 10% tip on an order of $15 or $20, “but it adds up at our high volumes,” Schnipper said.

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