The way we tip in the UK is different from the rest of the world. Currently, there is no legal obligation to tip in this country but the debate of when you should tip is ongoing - especially in the hospitality industry.
According to a recent study over a third of restaurants (34%) forecast growth compared to 2022 . The same proportion (34%) also forecast less revenue so it's more important than ever for small businesses to adapt and make changes to encourage more customers to book a table at their restaurant .
With the cost of living crisis, and the shift away from paying with cash, tips can sometimes be forgotten about. That is, unless the card machine presents an option to do so.
So, to understand the culture of tipping in the UK further and what restaurants can do to bring more customers in, we have asked 2,000 Brits their opinions around tipping. We delve into attitudes to splitting the bill, and what they deem a “tippable” service in the hospitality industry.
When you go out for dinner, it’s common to receive a “discretionary” or “compulsory” service charge. Some may mistake this charge for a tip, however, it isn’t always shared among workers. This charge is distributed at the company’s discretion and a portion is often put towards administrative costs. On the other hand, a tip is money that is left directly for the waiter/waitress based on a percentage of the bill.
Nearly half of Brits want to abandon service charges when eating out
Based on the data, the UK is not keen to adopt the US way of tipping any time soon. Just 3% of those surveyed suggest that we should adopt the same process of a 20-25% tip for all services (including supermarkets and retailers).
Interestingly, the majority (42%) stated that they would prefer to not pay the service charge and decide the tip amount themselves, based on the level of service. In contrast, a fifth stated that they prefer the service charge, so they don’t need to worry about deciding how much to tip.
As we noted previously, the whole service charge isn’t always given to the workers, suggesting that there could be some confusion about how this process works when dining out.
Whilst the data has revealed that Brits on average are willing to tip £7.44 for a £100 bill (under 10%), nearly a quarter (24%) of those surveyed revealed that they would prefer not to leave a tip at all.
With the cost of everything rising in the UK, this is somewhat unsurprising. Eating out is a luxury for most and the added expense isn’t always welcome.
The cost of living is increasing for both businesses and individuals. As food prices continue to rise, hospitality businesses are fighting to maintain profitability with only 37% of businesses remaining profitable.
Unfortunately, consumer attitudes make this even more difficult, with the survey revealing that 42% of customers seek out places offering better value for money, suggesting that small businesses need to have attractive offerings to even get customers coming through the door.
Interestingly, just 14% of customers are concerned about places offering unique experiences. Whilst these are often great places to dine, they can come with a hefty price tag and, therefore, are not seen as good value for money.
|Tip for a £100 bill on average
|65 and over
According to the data, 18-24-year-olds in the UK would tip £18.24 on average for a £100 bill. Contrastingly, 55-64-year-olds in the survey revealed that they would tip the least on average for a £100 bill, at £5.01. This supports the findings that 42% of Brits aged 55 to 64 would prefer to abolish the typical service charge and tip based on the service, therefore, less than the recommended 10-12.5%.
Interestingly, Gen-Z is the biggest supporter of the US tipping culture, with 8% of respondents citing that they would prefer to assume this style. This suggests that we may see a shift in how we tip in the UK in the future, with a large proportion of the younger generation happy to exceed the current guideline of 10-12.5%.
Many of us are making cuts to deal with the rising costs, however, according to our latest data, figures show that 67% of 18-24-year-olds have been spending more at bars and restaurants over the last 12 months compared to 47% of 45 to 54-year-olds that have been spending less. This could be due to differing priorities, with the younger generation likely to still live at home having more disposable income.
Interestingly, despite younger generations spending more over the last year dining out, their priority is getting better value for money. 40% of those surveyed admitted this was a factor of consideration since the cost of living crisis started, followed by 32% citing that unique experiences are a priority. This suggests that hospitality businesses should prioritise deals where possible to attract this customer.
Men said they would tip nearly 2x more on average than women
Based on the results of the survey, men said that they are more likely to tip more than women. On average, women are likely to tip £5.79 for a £100 bill, versus men who on average would tip £9.11. This finding is consistent with the fact that more women (26%) than men (22%) would prefer not to tip at all.
Men are spending more on dining out than women
According to the data, more men (32%) than women (16%) have spent more at bars and restaurants in the last 12 months than they had previously. Based on additional findings, this disparity is arguably due to a difference in priorities. Of the men surveyed, 37% cited that a memorable experience is more important than saving money, whereas 46% of women suggested that saving money and having a memorable experience are equally as important. A potential explanation for twice as many men admitting to spending more dining out despite the cost of living.
|% of the city population that wouldn’t tip for a £100 bill
Aberystwyth and Swansea have taken a spot in the top three for having the highest percentage of the population stating that they would prefer not to tip for a £100 bill.
Aberystwyth firmly takes the top spot with 75% of respondents confirming their preference, whilst just 44% of Swansea residents agree with the majority of Aberystwyth.
Based on the data displayed in the above table, it’s clear that Northern residents are more likely to tip in a hospitality setting than residents in the Midlands.
Despite this, residents of Leeds are the least likely to tip in the North, with 40% surveyed admitting that they would prefer not to add a tip when faced with a £100 bill.
|Average tip given based on a £100 bill
|Brighton and Hove
Based on the findings, residents of Belfast are the most generous tippers, averaging a £20.36 tip for a £100 bill. This finding is consistent with the fact that 31% of residents would prefer to abandon the typical 10-12.5% service charge to tip what they want.
Additionally, this area of the UK is one of the most in favour of the US-style tipping culture, with 5% citing that they would prefer this moving forward.
According to the data, most areas of the UK are keen to keep the tip below 10%. Belfast, Aberystwyth, and Aberdeen are the only three areas that would tip 10% and above on average for a £100 bill. With costs rising across the UK, it's unsurprising that this figure is so low, however, our research has identified some traits hospitality businesses should adopt that customers favour and are more likely to tip for.
1. Attentive waiters/waitresses
Coming in first place for what customers look for in a restaurant is attentive waiters/waitresses with over 63% of people saying it's important for good hospitality.
When waiting on tables in a restaurant, ensure you check back regularly with the group or person to make sure they have everything they want. As mentioned before, this is a great way to get customers to return as they know the service is good.
2. Fast and efficient service
Another way restaurants can keep and encourage customers back is by having fast and efficient service. When surveyed, 62% agreed that it would make for good hospitality.
3. Strong knowledge of food and drinks
Out of the people surveyed, 44% of people think having a strong knowledge of food and drinks makes for good hospitality and service.
Having good knowledge of food and drinks helps make customers feel at ease as you can tell them about the ingredients and recommend meals they may like. For example, if someone requires gluten-free, you can tell them all the meals on the menu that are suitable for them.
4. Build rapport
32% of people agreed that having a waitress/waiter that builds rapport with the group is the best part about good hospitality. You can create a good rapport with your customers by actively listening to what they’d like in regards to their order as well as remembering their names if they are repeat customers.
5. Waiters/waitresses feeling like they know you
Lastly, 21% of people said good hospitality is when a waiter or waitress feels like they know you. Across all these points, good service is proving as the most important to get customers to return to your restaurant.
Here at Dojo, we understand how important it is for businesses to provide good service to keep customers coming back. When you choose a Dojo card machine, like the Dojo Go, you can take payments over 50% faster than the industry average, making it easy for customers to pay quickly.
With 29% of people preferring to pay the bill at the time of ordering, Dojo Pocket makes this a seamless process. The light but powerful handheld machine allows customers to pay at the time of ordering allowing them to leave when they are ready and for businesses to turnover more tables.