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Inflation forcing Canadians to cut back on tipping: survey

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As inflation continues to impact the cost of living, Canadians are finding more ways to save money when dining out.

A new survey by Lightspeed Commerce Inc. shows a quarter of Canadians are tipping less than they used to. When they do tip, most are leaving leaving less than they used to – between 10 and 15 per cent.

The survey also finds more Canadians are saving money using coupons, buying cheaper meals and taking leftovers home in a takeout container.

David Brunner, a university student in Ottawa, says he used to be a server, and while he says servers deserve tips, he sometimes holds back for baristas and at takeout restaurants.

"I collected up all my tips throughout high school," he said.

"There's some things where it's like, you just handed me my coffee, or you handed me the pizza. I'll just pay the amount and leave."

Others think tips should go to everyone, including baristas. Sean Eagles tipped his Starbucks barista when ordering his drink.

"I figure the people that are working there can use a bit more cash," Eagles said.

Restaurants Canada officially recommends tipping between 15 to 18 per cent and encourages customers to tip based on their experience dining out. According to 2023 data from Restaurants Canada, Canadians traditionally tip an average of 17.6 per cent of their bill.

Diner Valerie Wright says she likes to leave a tip, but is upset at how the tips are usually added up on the debit machine.

"They come up with choices like 18, 20 per cent that is on the full price, including tax. I think you should only tip on the cost of what you have ordered," she said.

Carol Lahey, another diner, said, "I do 20 per cent often or 15 per cent. They deserve it. They have to live just like everybody else."

At The Prescott in Ottawa's Little Italy, tipping is still going strong.

"The only tips that we're really seeing lower right now is just takeout," said Ben Slumkoski, the manager of The Prescott restaurant in Ottawa's Little Italy.

"But as far as tips here in the restaurant, we're not seeing much of a change on that. It's pretty much the same."

When it comes to tipping and dining out, many say you are paying for the experience more than anything.

"What you're doing is you're surrounding yourself with a ton of memories when you leave home at the end of the night. And I think that's what people are still willing to pay for and wanting to pay for," Slumkoski said.

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