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The Best Cities for Online Shopping


If you want a prime mall parking space, head to Miami. Residents there prefer to do their shopping online.

People in Miami make five times as many online purchases as the national average and spend 5.7 times as much, reports a new analysis of spending data at the 30 biggest online retailers for consumers in the 65 biggest U.S. cities. Manhattanites, the runners-up, buy 3.7 times as much, and spend 3.5 times more. (See the top and bottom five below.)

City residents who prefer the convenience of home delivery to lugging groceries or furniture up a five-floor walk-up may have a head start, but online shoppers as a whole are buying more, thanks to better prices and a growing selection of available items, says Sucharita Mulpuru, a principal analyst with Forrester Research. Online sales rose 12.6% last year to $176.2 billion, according to the firm’s annual forecast, and 70% of that was existing shoppers buying more. (The 5.5 million Americans who shopped online for the first time last year accounted for the rest.) found that 30.4% of purchases were medications, health and beauty products; 11.1% clothing, 9.4% computer hardware and 1.6% food, beer and wine, among other categories.

The online price advantage that stems from avoiding sales tax, however, is slowly coming to a halt. California, which charges a base rate of 7.25%, recently followed several other states in enacting a law requiring online retailers to collect sales tax on its behalf. But that extra charge isn’t enough to deter online shoppers. “The web still wins on price regardless of sales tax,” Mulpuru says.

Online Shopping Meccas

1) Miami (5 times as many purchases, spending 5.7 times as much)

2) Manhattan (3.7 times as many purchases, spending 3.5 times as much)

3) San  Francisco (2.7 times as many purchases, spending 2.6 times as much)

4) St. Louis (2.6 times as many purchases, spending 2.5 times as much)

5) Pittsburgh (2.4 times as many purchases, spending 2.4 times as much)

Mall-Crawling Cities

1) Detroit (94% fewer online purchases, spending 93.5% less)

2) Memphis (69% fewer online purchases, spending 68% less)

3) Toledo (69% fewer online purchases, spending 67% less)

4) Phoenix (71% fewer online purchases, spending 70% less)

5) El Paso (71% fewer online purchases, spending 68%% less)


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About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to or tweet @SMPayDirt.