Attention, online shoppers: Perhaps you’ve seen that little box at checkout that says to enter a coupon or discount code. That box spells savings, and for those in the know, those discounts mean Black Friday can pretty much be any day.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, retailers took in $97 billion on e-commerce sales in the second quarter of 2016. With so many people shopping online, we set out to determine which states and cities save the most via use of coupons and discount codes.
NerdWallet partnered with Honey, a browser extension that finds promo codes for online shoppers, to see how much of a discount, on average, shoppers in each state receive when making purchases online and using the extension. Using data from over 2 million online shoppers, we calculated the average percentage discount per transaction. Then we sorted this by state and census designated places, referred to in this study as “city” or “cities,” for 21 different shopping categories. These measurements were taken from March 1 to Aug. 30, 2016.
Use our interactive maps to find out where your state or city gets the biggest discounts.
The discount each state got on average, and the top category per state:
Where the most discounts were received in each state and city per category:
Overall, on purchases where a coupon was applicable, residents of all states who used this browser extension got average discounts between 16.8% and 18.7% per transaction. However, discounts varied by city and category of goods; one city, for example, got an average discount of 55.2% in one category. For specific categories, the discounts in the top city for each category varied by as much as 45.1 percentage points.
Big-city dwellers aren’t the only shopping optimizers. While New York City claimed three of the top spots in different categories, many of the biggest discounts were spread far and wide, with smaller cities in the South and West making big showings. Many of the cities that were top-ranked in each category had a population under 500,000, and four of them have populations of under 50,000, according to 2015 data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
These small cities got some big discounts. Buford, Georgia, is the smallest city on the list of top cities by category, at 13,748 people, but they sure like to save on takeout. They got 35.8% off their food delivery purchases on average, a category that includes Domino’s and GrubHub, compared with 23.5% for all places we looked at. Ashburn, Virginia, and San Bruno, California, are the top savers in children’s supplies and sports products, respectively.
California has four top-discount cities in four different categories: Education purchases, such as online courses from Coursera and Chegg, in Inglewood; lifestyle deals from companies like QVC and LivingSocial, in West Covina; department store purchases in San Bernardino; and sports purchases from stores such as Sports Authority and Nike, in San Bruno. Department store shoppers in San Bernardino got almost twice as much of a discount in this category than shoppers do overall.
New York City ranked tops in home furniture and supply purchases, computers and electronics, and men’s clothing. In fact, New York City shoppers had an average of 33.8% knocked off their home-goods purchases, far above the average of 14.6% overall.
Virginia has top discount cities in three different categories. Manassas gets the biggest discounts on internet-domain purchases, which includes sites like GoDaddy. Arlington is tops for photos, which can include the purchase of stock photos from places like Shutterstock and iStock and photo printing and binding services like Shutterfly. Ashburn gets 24.8% on average off children’s supplies, which covers clothing stores like Gymboree and furniture stores like Pottery Barn Kids.
Savings vary widely among categories. Travel purchases, which include plane ticket and hotel services like Kayak and ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, averaged a 7.1% discount rate overall, one of the lowest rates of savings. The top-saving city in travel — Chandler, Arizona — shaved 10.1% off its bills on average.
In the categories with the greatest overall discounts, the top cities saved dramatically. Manassas, Virginia, received 55.2% off on average on internet purchases, such as domain names, in comparison with 33.6% overall. Those who made education purchases in Inglewood, California, saved 48.7% on average, compared with 29.3% overall. Consumers in the top-performing cities in home, office, gifts, and health and beauty purchases were able to save over 30% on average as well, compared with between 14.6% and 26.1% overall.
Where the savviest online shoppers live
Scroll for more data.
|Rank||City*||City Savings Rate||State Savings Rate||Best In State?||Is City Best At A Category?||State's Best Category|
|* For the purposes of our study, we labeled 'census designated places' as 'cities.'|
|4||Grand Rapids, MI||18.80%||17.4%||Yes||No||Office|
|9||Boulder, CO||18.65%||17.7%||Yes||No||Health and Beauty|
|12||Louisville, KY||18.53%||18.1%||Yes||No||Health and Beauty|
|13||Rochester, NY||18.51%||17.7%||Yes||No||Computers & Electronics|
|14||Fort Worth, TX||18.49%||18.0%||Yes||No||Eyewear|
|17||Oklahoma City, OK||18.39%||18.1%||Yes||No||Food Delivery|
|19||Kansas City, MO||18.37%||18.3%||Yes||No||Health and Beauty|
|24||Fremont, CA||18.27%||17.5%||Yes||No||Computers & Electronics|
|25||San Antonio, TX||18.26%||18.0%||No||No||Eyewear|
|27||St. Louis, MO||18.25%||18.3%||No||No||Health and Beauty|
|31||New York, NY||18.19%||17.7%||No||Home||Computers & Electronics|
|34||Madison, WI||18.16%||17.9%||Yes||Entertainment||Health and Beauty|
|37||Fort Lauderdale, FL||18.12%||18.2%||No||No||Home|
|38||St. Petersburg, FL||18.11%||18.2%||No||No||Home|
|42||Aurora, CO||18.05%||17.7%||No||No||Health and Beauty|
|45||Silver Spring, MD||18.02%||17.9%||Yes||No||Children|
|46||Baton Rouge, LA||18.02%||18.1%||Yes||No||Internet|
|48||Salt Lake City, UT||18.00%||18.2%||Yes||Arts and Crafts||Department|
|49||Lexington, KY||17.95%||18.1%||No||No||Health and Beauty|
|50||Jersey City, NJ||17.95%||17.5%||Yes||No||Photos|
|51||New Orleans, LA||17.93%||18.1%||No||No||Internet|
|54||San Francisco, CA||17.88%||17.5%||No||No||Computers & Electronics|
|55||Mountain View, CA||17.86%||17.5%||No||No||Computers & Electronics|
|58||Saint Paul, MN||17.84%||17.9%||No||No||Clothing|
|59||Buffalo, NY||17.82%||17.7%||No||No||Computers & Electronics|
|60||Santa Barbara, CA||17.81%||17.5%||No||No||Computers & Electronics|
|63||Colorado Springs, CO||17.79%||17.7%||No||No||Health and Beauty|
|64||Milwaukee, WI||17.74%||17.9%||No||No||Health and Beauty|
|65||Las Vegas, NV||17.74%||17.8%||Yes||No||Arts and Crafts|
|66||Denver, CO||17.73%||17.7%||No||No||Health and Beauty|
|67||Santa Clara, CA||17.73%||17.5%||No||No||Computers & Electronics|
|74||San Diego, CA||17.65%||17.5%||No||No||Computers & Electronics|
|76||Virginia Beach, VA||17.63%||18.0%||No||No||Internet|
|78||Oakland, CA||17.54%||17.5%||No||No||Computers & Electronics|
|81||Los Angeles, CA||17.49%||17.5%||No||No||Computers & Electronics|
|84||Ann Arbor, MI||17.37%||17.4%||No||No||Office|
|85||Irvine, CA||17.36%||17.5%||No||No||Computers & Electronics|
|86||Berkeley, CA||17.33%||17.5%||No||No||Computers & Electronics|
|88||San Jose, CA||17.28%||17.5%||No||No||Computers & Electronics|
|91||Sunnyvale, CA||17.11%||17.5%||No||No||Computers & Electronics|
|92||Santa Monica, CA||17.06%||17.5%||No||No||Computers & Electronics|
|93||Sacramento, CA||16.98%||17.5%||No||No||Computers & Electronics|
|95||Long Beach, CA||16.84%||17.5%||No||No||Computers & Electronics|
Daniel Tonkovich is a data analyst at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Veronica Ramirez is a staff writer at NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @veraudrey.
NerdWallet partnered with Honey, a free browser extension that automatically finds and applies promo codes when users shop online. For this study, Honey looked at transaction data from March 1 to Aug. 31, 2016, which included shopping category type, transaction amount, discount amount, and city of transaction. The data set contained transactions from Honey’s more than 2 million users. NerdWallet categorized the location data into census-designated places as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. For the purposes of our analysis, we call these locations “cities.”
Transactions smaller than $1 and larger than $2,000 were removed for more accurate data. Cities with fewer than 500 transactions were removed to ensure valid sample sizes.
Six lists were then created for the study:
- Average discounts per state: We looked at all valid transactions in a state and divided the amount saved by the total amount spent to find the discounts percentage.
- Average discounts per city: We looked at all valid transactions in a city and divided the amount saved by the total amount spent.
- Top discount city in each state: Using list No. 1, we found the top discount city in each state. Some states did not have a city with enough transactions. For this reason, not all states are represented on this list.
- Average discounts per category: We looked at all transactions in a category and divided the amount discounted by the total amount spent to find the average percent for each category. Some categories did not have enough purchases below $2,000 to be counted.
- Top city in each category: We found the city with the highest discounts rate in each category by finding all valid cities and dividing the cities’ discounts amount by the transaction size.
- Top category in each state: This list shows which category each state is best at, relative to all other states. It was computed by finding the standard deviation of discounts in each category. The largest standard deviation in each state was selected as the category in which the state was best.