HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Grocery store tipping??

I'm curious about what other 'houds think on this one. There is a speciality Italian supermarket that just opened up in my area. They do home made pastas, sauces, meats, etc. There is an omlete bar in the morning and a pasta bar in the afternoon, a full service deli, pastry area, bakery, prepared goods, etc etc.

None of these stations have tip jars for the people who are preparing food for you, but the people at the check out register DO have tip jars. I can't bring myself to tip someone for ringing me up. If I thought it was being split with everyone else who is actually preparing my food I might be more inclined; but even then I don't see tip jars at any other markets. Obviously, I should ask and find out what the deal with the tip jars are, but what are your thoughts about tipping at a grocery store?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Many grocery stores in the inland NW have a "spare Change" container. It's not used for tips, but for the cashier to grab a few pennies to add to what the customer pays, so the customer does not end up getting 99 cents back. They also use it to make up small shortages when some customers don't have quite enough to pay the full amount.
    Most people who are receiving from one penny up to ten or fifteen cents simply leave the change in the container.
    This practice actually speeds up the checkout process.

    4 Replies
    1. re: hannaone

      jfood remembers a comedian who had the following line about spare change:

      "I'm XXX (insert nationality). There's no such thing as spare change."

      1. re: hannaone

        If it were "give a penny take a penny" that'd be different, I'm not opposed to seeing small chage in there to expedite the ring-up process. However, this jar clearly says "TIPS" on it, and I just have to wonder, ya know?

        I don't post often but I read a lot, and must say that JFood is my hero.

        1. re: Prax1134

          Thank you P

          Jfood misses some of the things in your neighborhood. The Yum-Yum donut shop in Warminster/Hatboro is still the best donut jfood has ever tasted (could eat 4 boston creams between Yum-Yums and Chesterbrook). You are also very lucky with the Farmer's Market on Route 1 in Wayne. Great meats, poultry, seasonings and coffee. The non-pareils were the best and let's not forget the "diner" in the back for some good bacon and eggs. You should post about some of the great culinary treats you have in your neighborhood.

          1. re: Prax1134

            LoL, that's a different story.
            The only grocery I have seen labeled TIP jars has been at Military Commissaries where the baggers work for tips only, and there I tip quite liberally.

        2. A tip jar at the cahier? OMG. No question about it, no tip.

          1. That's a new one for me. The only time I'll tip is when the bag boy/girl helps me with my grocery to the car.

            1 Reply
            1. re: PeterL

              A tip jar at a grocery checkout. How funny. Absolutely, positively no.

            2. When I lived/worked in Mexico, nearly every one of the major grocery stores (i.e., Gigante) would have 10-12 boys that were 10-12 year old dressed in blue slacks, white shirt, and a tie who would assist you to your vehicle with your groceries. While I was perfectly capable of carrying 2-3 plastic bags to the car, I really liked the effort and hustle that the boys showed and always tipped them for their service.

              On occasion, I slipped a gift to a counter person at my favorite Italian deli in Dearborn when they have gone out of their way to specially wrap pancetta, proscuitto, or pound out 10-20# of scallopini.

              For a cashier, probably not.

              1. I've seen this in some supermarkets in Queens, New York, for the baggers, most of whom, I believe, are illegal immigrants. I do leave them some money as I feel bad for their circumstances.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Miss Needle

                  I remember seeing this in Queens as well. In fact, the tip jars were homemade (not sanctioned by the store management) and it was only for the baggers. I think the baggers were mainly younger sibs of the cashiers. I always tipped them, just because it seemed so sad. Now, living upstate, I realize that I was guilted into it!

                  1. re: Catskillgirl

                    The baggers I have encountered were not younger siblings of the cashiers. They were generally middle-aged and up people of Latin American descent. I think the type of baggers you see is highly variable, depending on the supermarket you go to.

                2. I always tip the baggers at my grocery store here in Cali, Colombia. The checkers are not allowed to accept tips.

                  1. I've seen this at downmarket groceries in NYC, and was always under the impression the tip was for the bagboys.

                    1. Since you say it is a new store and ostenisbly independent [or it is one of the
                      speciality chains?], i'm going to assume the players involved are the set of
                      cashiers and the owner [i.e. no manager, corporate hq, company policy etc].

                      given those two agents, i dont see how they have much downside to placing
                      tip jars. has anybody refused to keep going to a place with a tip jar?

                      from the cashier's perspectve it is probably seen as free money .. i assume this was
                      cashier-driven. i doubt it would be owner-driven under the logic "i can pay people
                      less if i allow tip collection". upside for cashiers, no downside for owner assuming no
                      effect on customers, so TIP-yes seems to "dominate" TIP-no under reasonable
                      assumptions. So the question is "why dont we see even more tip jars"?

                      Yes, I realize there are quite a few possible answers:
                      1. some workers may prefer 0 tips to "trivial" tips
                      2. the owner may just not want it done for somewhat vague reasons ...
                      lots of cash? hassles?
                      3. owner may not want it done because of customer impact ... in the resto setting
                      i factor tips into the cost of a meal and probably on big ticket marginal items like
                      wine. But I dont think people would factor tips into their decision to shop at this
                      particular store.

                      1. I am going to leave a "tip" jar on top of my desk at work. Hopefully, anytime anybody asks me to do anything for them they will leave a dollar in the jar.

                        This tip jar thing has gotten way out of hand. It's not just small owned busineses that do this, but at chains also.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: MrsT

                          Right on, Mrs T! The tip jar business has gotten way out of hand. I remember the first time I saw one at Starbucks. Thought it was ridiculous then and think the same thing now. The regional grocery chain where we shop pays their employees a fair wage and prohibit them from accepting tips.

                          1. re: ddavis

                            <The regional grocery chain where we shop pays their employees a fair wage>
                            Our local supermarket has now added "self-checkout." They have an employee who does nothing but try to persuade us to do it ourselves. When I asked if I would be given a discount equal to the prevailing union wage for the time it took me to do their work for them, she didn't get the point.

                              1. re: MakingSense

                                Our supermarket also added self-checkout. Sad thing is I'd rather do it myself, I do a better job. I was a supermarket cashier back in college, I know how to scan and bag properly. Besides, I hate to interupt the employees while they text message and watch videos on their iPods.

                                1. re: MrsT

                                  So true. I We don't have self check-outs here (although I wish we did). I always insist on bagging my own groceries, not that the cashiers try very hard to convice me otherwise, since none of them see to understand the concept of putting heavy items on the bottom of bags!

                                2. re: MakingSense

                                  Hah, excellent, Making Sense. I love it. I would no more check out myself than I would use one of those machines that expect me to remember my parking space.

                            1. To take the guesswork out of who gets the tips or how they are split, I would just ask the manager/owner.

                              1. Where is that market locaated?!! It sounds fantastic!! I would be there every morning for the omlette bar! As for tipping, I do tip the person who helps me out with my groceries, which is a once-in-awhile thing. I bet that you'll find out tips are shared - and you may want to ask who shares in them so that you know what you want to do. I tip the person at a deli counter who puts together a large order for me and it's always appreciated - but that's at places like Canters or Nate N Als - not in a supermarket.

                                1. Unless the person bagging is another Cashier killing her/his break while talking with my Cashier, I tip the person bagging. Here, the stores often allow Seniors or developmentally disabled adults who do it to make a litttle extra money. I admire and encourage that sort of work ethic. As for kids who offfer to carry/load my groceries, I'd rather see them working for tips and not out making money a less savory way

                                  1. At the Super Stop & Shop by me (NYC) tipping is frowned upon. I learned that when I tried to tip $1 to the bag girl after she hefted several heavy bags into my cart. She said they were not allowed to accept tips. I was very surprised.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: moymoy

                                      As far as i know,there is no tipping at H.E.B.Grocery Stores here in Texas unless I guess you wanted to do so.I think they might frown on that.Next time I go there I'll ask about it.
                                      I noticed that on the bill I recieve from the San Antonio Express -News they have a box marked carrier tip.In other words,you can tip the person who delivers your paper,something new.I don't put a tip in as I have never even met the person,and am wondering if this is their way of getting out of having to pay the person.
                                      Not like in the old days when you knew the paperboy .

                                    2. Tips should only be given in the "food" industry for those who earn BELOW the minimum wage and thus rely on the tips to get them to at least the minimum wage per hour for their shift. I do not tip for a cup of coffee, baggers in grocery stores, the baggers (or the baggers who help you to your car- some grocery stores who insist on not letting you take carriages outside), cashiers anywhere, dry cleaners, crossing guards etc... It is against the law for a business owner to decide he will pay below minimum wage and then allow the employees to put out tip jars. Those stores should be reported- the store is not only not paying the help the amount by law but they are therefore not paying the correct amount of workers comp insurance so if these employees try to collect they can't because they have not earned the required quarterly amount to do so. Everyone is a looser then.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: MeffaBabe

                                        This isn't on the original topic, but rather on tipping only people who make below minimum wage... You never actually know (unless you have asked of course) how much people make in certain jobs. For instance I work at a drive through coffee shop in NH where we start at $5.50/hour (below minimum) because we work off tips. Our regulars all know this, but the occasional person who doesn't like that we have a tip jar out has no idea how much we make.