How much should I tip grocery baggers?

| 08/07/2019
Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian status

After living in Germany, the US and Panama I have learned there are different ways that grocery stores handle the bagging of groceries. In the US and Germany the store clerk bags the groceries, or in times of high traffic there are “baggers” that provide the service as part of your purchase. In Panama, there usually are baggers all the time and a tip is anticipated.

What is the policy here in Cayman? I have noticed that the cashier will bag groceries for some customers, but never seems to do so for me. I do bring my own bags, and some customers do purchase (at a per-bag price) the store’s plastic bags. On days when there are teenage baggers, should they be tipped? If so, how much? I want to do what is customary, but don’t want to appear cheap or condescending. Life is filled with challenges!

Auntie’s answer: I’m glad you asked that question. It has been about three years since I last offered advice on tipping for various services in Cayman (See Need tips on proper amounts for gratuities), so it seems a good time to publicise this once again.

Right off the bat, I will say that, yes, tip those young baggers. There are so many distractions these days that make it way too easy for youngsters to waste their time, from video games to sharing every detail of their life through social media, that I think it is important to recognise someone with the diligence to work, no matter what the job. Being a bagger is a great first step for our youth, giving them an early lesson on the benefits of working and earning their own money.

What better way to encourage such positive behaviour than acknowledging their effort with a bit of cash? The way I look at it, you can’t go wrong by handing over a dollar bill to your bagger. I also think that paper will be more appreciated than a few coins, especially after a few hours of work when pockets may get a bit heavy (if things go well), but I’m sure all tips will be welcome. Towards that end, I recommend always keeping a few singles in your wallet so you are never caught short at the store in this age of cashless shopping.

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Comments (22)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The colluding grocery stores that rip us off should be paying these kids properly with the money they steal from our households every day. We’ll give an extra $1 if we have one, but we’d rather not feel like we are obliged to. Frankly, we’d rather load the expensive groceries in the correct order ourselves, but appreciate that kids have gotta start somewhere. Maybe we’d feel differently if the kids had some basic training on how to load bags.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I will tip them. It’s not norm here for young people to have jobs like the USA. I am so excited to see them working rather than at home playing games, being idle or getting in trouble. This prepares them for the workplace. So what if they made $3000. It’s not like that is going to happen with all of these tight wads on this board.

    • Anonymous says:

      Local businesses can too easily get work permits for low wage workers. They do not need or want have shifts for teenagers. The only jobs they can get is bagging. No jobs in fast food stores, no jobs in retail, no jobs in landscaping, no jobs bussing UNLESS you can work 35 hours a week, show you have medical insurance and can get yourself to and from work with this unreliable and unsafe public transport.


    • Anonymous says:

      It is no different from someone cleaning your windscreen at a stop light. You didn’t ask for it but expected to pay for it. Tipping is a reward for good service that you asked for. Nothing to do with being a tight wad, it has more to do with ethics. If I didn’t ask for it, I should not have to pay for it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    In Florida they wear a badge: DO NOT TIP, but they are not volunteers.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I tip the gas attendant if he cleans my windows, otherwise forget it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Tip them yes, My young days as a bagger during summer depended on tip for my lunch everyday.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I tip if and only if the bagger is polite, takes his time to handle my purchases with care and obeys my instructions as keep cold stuff together, herbs on the top, etc etc. I give them the coins I get after paying my bill .. heavy pockets? They are standing right next to the cashier and can easily convert coins to bills! C’mon Auntie, your response is not well considered, and I absolutely agree with other posters that we don’t want a culture of having to tip for the least little thing! And least of all to teach children that money is almost free?!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I do not mind tipping but if there is a till without a bagger i will go to that. I bring my own bags and I like to pack the food in the correct order to unpack it + I do not damage my own goods.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The problem with making any tipping practice “customary” is that it then becomes the norm and if a customer comes along who chooses not to tip they automatically become the cheap so and so.
    While recognizing that baggers, especially in Cayman, are youth and a dollar goes a long way for them, there is also the issue of tips for other staff. Why no tips for the cashiers, the shelf stockers, the employees behind various counters etc??
    Where does it begin, where does it end?

    • Anonymous says:

      Little kids bagging groceries should get a little tip. That’s where it ends. You people are ssoooo tight.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yet you are okay with the exploitation of ‘little kids’ being used for low or no pay it seems, and society should compensate by tipping?

  9. Anon says:

    I totally disagree. Albeit they are offering a service, they are also getting paid for that specific job, it is not voluntary. Like a previous commenter stayed, if they went above and beyond by helping take to the car and unloading in the car as well, then fair enough a tip is justified. It’s like tipping the bar tender for getting you a drink when you are sitting at the bar, it’s what they are paid to do.
    I always tell them I don’t need help as I prefer to bag myself, but why do cashiers feel like it is a race to get through your purchases as quickly as possible, even when there is no one waiting

  10. Anonymous says:

    Could not disagree more, it is an unsolicited service. I am from a generation where you got paid for what you did. We now teach that you get rewarded even more for just doing your job, it is the wrong message. Now before I get called a tight wad, tipping for outstanding service is something I subscribe to. For instance if I saw one of those baggers carrying the groceries for a frail person to their car, I believe that should be rewarded.

  11. Anonymous says:

    You can make $3,000 a month bagging groceries if you get a $1 tip every 3 minutes of a 7.5 hour work day.

    60/3 = $20/hour

    20 x 7.5 = 150, $150 x 20 work days a month = $3000.

    I know many Caymanians who do harder work and make $1000 less. Am I really wrong for not giving $1?