Tipping Trends in Canada

How much do you tip your barista or barber? Knowing how much to tip, and when, can be a confusing experience for some Canadians, with different expectations across the country.

Tipping trends graph for Canada

Our 2018 Tipping Trends report found that the average tip across all locations and business types using Square in Canada is 13.8% but this varies from the highest amount of 15.8% in Regina to the lowest tippers in Vancouver at 12.8%. We spoke to Julie Blais Comeau, the Chief Etiquette Officer at Etiquettejulie.com and Canada’s go-to etiquette expert, to find out why this variation occurs and how much is a good tip to give.

People in smaller cities are seen to tip more, for example Whitehorse has an average of 15.4% and Yellowknife is 15.1%; Julie believes this is because there’s a greater sense of collectiveness in cities with smaller populations, as the person tipping feels a greater sense of their tip’s direct impact. You also see the same people more, so there is a greater responsibility to tip more.

On the flipside, Ottawa is one of the top three cities listed with a higher-than-average tipping percentage of 15.3%. Julie suggests that this is because Ottawa sees a lot of tourism with government officials with expense accounts and government officials tend to adopt the perceived local tipping culture. However British Columbia, and Vancouver in particular, sees a great deal of tourists but they have lower-than-average tipping at 13.4%. “There is a significant Asian population in Vancouver,” says Julie. “For parts of China, tipping is illegal. For the Japanese, tipping can be seen as rude or embarrassing. Asian cultural traditions around tipping have carried over to Vancouver.”

Average tip by location in Canada

Average tip by business type in Canada

Julie’s Advice for Tipping Dilemmas in Everyday Life:

Food and drink scenarios

How should you handle tipping before the service is provided at a salad or coffee shop?
“This takes us back to the folkloric origins of the word tip: T.I.P. = To Insure Promptness. When a tip is given, an expectation is set by the tipper—much like a bribe. Satisfaction remains to be seen. If that expectation of the experience isn’t met, let the server know or talk to the manager rather than asking for the tip back. Today, local coffee shops and gourmet lunch spots have become an experience, so tipping in these areas goes toward elements like the customized delivery of your order.”

Beauty and barber shops

Should you tip your hairdresser or barber as much if they are the owner?

“Historically this wasn’t the case but today people are extending the same amount to salon or barber shop owners as they do to employees. Salons increasingly have experience elements, like drinks, that go beyond a basic haircut.”

“One way to handle tipping on high-price-point services like laser treatments and microblading is to round up the amount paid. Also, it’s important to consider the length of the service as well and if extra elements were added on to make the visit more of an experience, which requires more of a tip.”

Taxi Drivers

Should you tip a taxi driver more if your luggage or bags go in the truck?
“A larger tip should be extended in the case of baggage handling. Touching equals tipping. Handling bags to place them in or out of a trunk or up stairs has an impact on the driver’s health and that should be taken into account. However, if the driver simply popped the truck, it’s not necessary to tip more than you normally would.”

Source: Tipping has been analyzed in aggregate across Square sellers in Canada who have the tipping feature enabled in their Square Point of Sale app. Over 2 million transactions between February-May 2018 have been examined.

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