I was never a huge proponent of online shopping; I like instant gratification. But I've been doing it more and more as it has become easier, more convenient. You can find anything online, there are no barriers or restrictions, and have it shipped to your door -- home or office -- in a matter of days. By pitting suppliers against one another, you're often able to save money; and by never leaving your chair, you're able to save time -- "two of our most valued commodities in the world today," writes Extrabux's Jeff Nobbs on the Extrabux Blog.
Extrabux, a comparison shopping website, analyzed three factors -- sales tax rates, shipping time and shipping costs -- to build out a list of the five best states to live for online shoppers. And the five worst. In determining shipping transit time, Nobbs and his team looked at the placement of some of the largest online retailers' shipping distribution centers around the country. Shipping cost was calculated using a large sample set of popular products and averaging the cost to ship to one location in each of the 50 states.
Sales tax was clearly the most difficult to calculate. Because taxes vary from city to city (and it matters: in Fredonia, Arizona, sales tax is 11.725%), Nobbs averaged the total sales tax of every major city in each state. Online retailers, though, only charge sales tax if they have a physical presence (warehouse, headquarters, etc.) in the state you're purchasing from. Looking at Extrabux's 1,500 retailers, Nobbs multiplied each state's average sales tax by the percentage of online retailers that charge sales tax in that state to find what he calls a "standardized sales tax rate."
To see how your state stacks up, look at the scatter chart at the bottom of this post.