Tough economy might cut into holiday tipping
New Yorkers may be spreading the holiday cheer a little thinner this year, as high unemployment and tighter checkbooks are expected to put the reins on the annual tipping season.
“There will be people who give less, some people who will give nothing,” said Tony Rosario, 65, who has been a doorman at the same East Side co-op for 40 years and who normally gets about $20 to $30 per resident.
Rosario’s fears, as well as thousands of others who rely on seasonal tips, are well founded, according to a poll conducted by Consumer Reports. The survey, published in this month’s issue, found that 26 percent of Americans plan to tip less this year, while only 6 percent will give more.
The cutbacks began last holiday season, when a similar poll showed people reduced tips across the board, in some cases by half.
“It’s part of a general trend of people feeling they’re not out of the woods financially,” said Tobie Stanger, the editor who oversaw the report.
In New York — which most experts say is the tipping capital of the world — dozens of service providers, from doormen and hair stylists to nannies and dog walkers, rely on annual gratuities.
“It’s a service-oriented town,” said Ehren Shewchuk, 28, of Brooklyn, who plans to give her super between $100 and $200. “If you’re going to go out and get a service you expect to give a tip — it’s an associated cost.”
Patricia Fitzpatrick, head of the Etiquette School of New York, advises clients that if cuts have to be made, it’s gifts for friends and family that should go first, since service providers can earn 10 percent of their annual income through the year-end bonuses.
“They come before everyone and you should budget for it,” she said.
Fitzpatrick said those who provide specialty services, like manicurists and personal trainers, may see less because business is down in general.
That rings true for Lana Bargraser, who owns Allure spa in midtown. “We used to have male clients who came in once a week and now it’s every two to four weeks,” she said.
Some New Yorkers say doling out cash just isn’t an option this holiday season.
“My dry cleaners are getting cookies this year,” said Jaimie Sadowksy, 29, of Manhattan.
Chris James contributed to this story.