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Consumer Reports poll finds that fewer people tipped during 2008 Holidays than in previous year

Posted Monday, November 2, 2009

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Yonkers, NY — Americans have become more choosy about whom and how much to tip at the holidays, according to a new nationally representative phone survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

How much to tip and whom to give it to has always been a tricky decision, one that may get harder in these tough economic times. During the 2008 holidays fewer people than in the previous year tipped their newspaper carrier, barber, mail carrier, hairdresser, manicurist, and garbage collector.

The poll of more than 1,800 U.S. residents was conducted in January, shortly after the 2008 holiday season, when respondents could best remember what they gave. A separate survey CR conducted in October 2009 shows that the downward trend might continue: 26 percent of Americans who usually tip or give a gift to a service provider said they would spend less this holiday season than last. Just 6 percent said they planned to spend more.

The full results of the tipping survey are available in the December issue of Consumer Reports and online at

The big recipients were house cleaners, with 58 percent of respondents who employ them tipping them with cash, check or a gift card and 17 percent tipping them with a gift last year. House cleaners also received a larger gratuity than other service providers, averaging about $50 or an equivalent gift per tip.

Consumer Reports found other service providers included in the survey received, on average, tips valued between $10 and $40 per gift. Average cash or noncash tips were also smaller for some occupations. The median tip value for manicurists was $10, half the amount given during the prior holiday season; the median tip for pet-care providers dropped from $30 to $25.

“Families are looking for ways to balance their financial concerns with the need to thank people who have helped them during the year,” said Tobie Stanger, senior editorat Consumer Reports “This year, tipping is more of a challenge than ever, but CR’s survey shows that people are still trying to do it, for the most part.”

Rounding outthelist of other service providers who received cash, a check or a gift card and who typically receive holiday tips in the survey: hairdresser (36%), manicurist (33%), newspaper carrier (30%), barber (26%), pet-care provider (26%), child’s teacher (20%), mail carrier (13%), lawn-care crew (18%), and garbage collector (6%).

If the tipping budget is tight this upcoming season, Consumer Reports experts recommend that those wanting to express their gratitude can still say thanks with a card or a homemade gift.

Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this newspaper's web site.
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Consumer Reports poll finds that fewer people tipped during 2008 Holidays than in previous year

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