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Woman Was Asked To Tip 25% At A Grocery Store Checkout Counter

Photo: Kate_sept2004 / CanvaPro
Woman looks confused while standing at a grocery self-check out.

The great “tipping debate” is more prevalent than ever, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic where “essential” workers became the spotlight of the service industry. 

While it’s generally expected to tip delivery workers, restaurant waitstaff, and coffee shop employees, there are other environments where people feel conflicted about how much they should tip (or if they should tip at all). 

One woman’s honest post on TikTok emphasized that discomfort. 

The woman was asked to tip 25% on her groceries by a ‘high-end’ grocery cashier. 

Everett Grey shared her tipping dilemma in a TikTok post from January. “My boyfriend and I went to this grocery store in Austin called Tiny Grocer. It’s a bougie grocery store, not one that we would usually go to.” 

Despite the expected inflated prices, Grey admitted they chose the grocery store purely for the luxury, adding “we were having a little date night… we wanted cheese, cured meat, wine.”

   

   

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After they shopped around for a while, enjoying the ambiance and picking out the ingredients for their “date night dinner” they made their way to the check-out counter. When they arrived, the cashier rang up all their things and relayed a total of $40 to the couple. 

The cashier then turned the screen around to the couple, asking for more than just their credit card to pay for the groceries. 

The cashier flipped around the screen and asked Grey to select the 25% tip on her $40 grocery bill. 

“I look at her and my jaw [dropped],” she admitted. “We grabbed our stuff and left… I told my boyfriend in the car that they’d just asked for a tip. I was [expletive] up about it for days.” 

The Tiny Grocer’s Instagram page clearly displays the high-end grocer vibes that the woman spoke about in her video with bright vibes, trendy music, and eccentric grocery choices. It’s everything that a foodie dreams of. 

Along with being trendy and luxurious, the Austin grocery store also seems to be relatively new and commenters speculated this could be the reason for the strange tip request from the cashier. They could be looking for extra income to help “kick start” their business. 

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“I live in Austin,” one woman wrote under the post. “Tiny Grocer pays their employees a living wage, so I have no idea why else they’d be doing this. It’s not okay at all.” 

Most people admitted a grocery store was the last place they’d tip a retail worker. 

Typically, when we think about tipping service employees, we imagine occupations like baristas or food service workers, but why is that?

Based on 2024 statistics, the average hourly wage for a barista hovers somewhere around $16 while other occupations like grocery store workers make about $25

Woman Was Asked To Tip 25% At A Grocery Store Checkout CounterPhoto: Odua Images / Canva Pro

This difference in hourly pay is greatly attributed to the customer tips these employees receive and are usually expecting. Baristas and other food service workers rely on their tips as the majority of their take-home pay, meaning their standard hourly wage is much lower than other occupations. 

That's not the case for grocery store employees which is why the general consensus is a tipping suggestion at a supermarket is unreasonable.

As a general rule, tipping is an option, not an obligation.

Anyone who has a decreased hourly wage deserves a tip, and most people would agree with that, but it's not an obligation. That's why opinions on tipping culture in the US can get so heated. 

   

   

In terms of employees who get an hourly wage that is at or above the mandated minimum based on state law, it's a very different argument. Does that mean it's bad to tip these employees? No! It's a choice. Instead of getting heated over it, the best way to handle it is to do what you feel is right. 

Sometimes, an employee goes above and beyond regardless of what they earn, and if you feel they deserve a tip there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. It's just as acceptable to choose not to tip in these instances.

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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a news and entertainment writer at YourTango focusing on pop culture and human interest stories.