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Best Places to Buy Small Appliances

Consumer Reports members dish on their shopping experiences

Countertop appliance from the best small appliance stores.

Two-thirds of small appliances bought online by Consumer Reports members are purchased at Amazon. That’s a lot of coffee makers, blenders, and other countertop gear.

Amazon shoppers praise the website for its wide selection of small appliances and say it’s a breeze to use. And the prices aren’t bad, either—though they aren’t as good as you might assume. Five other retailers rated just as high as Amazon when it comes to prices.

That’s just one of the nuggets we discovered when we asked 46,000 of CR’s members about their experiences buying 68,000 small and large appliances online and in stores between the spring of 2017 and the spring of 2018.

In our appliance store survey, Amazon was among the top-rated sellers of small appliances for the 13th year running. Only Abt, an appliance and electronics megastore store in suburban Chicago, rates higher than Amazon with small-appliance shoppers, though both are considered top-notch overall., Costco, JCPenney, and Williams-Sonoma are also rated high by our members.

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We asked our members about their overall satisfaction with a retailer as well as their views on price, selection, service, in-store atmosphere, and website usability. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Price: No small-appliance retailer gets our top rating, but six receive favorable marks.
  • Selection: Abt and Amazon are the only two retailers to get our top rating.
  • Service: No top-rated retailers, but six receive favorable marks.
  • In-store atmosphere: Williams Sonoma gets a top mark.
  • Website usability: Abt and Amazon receive our top rating.

Even though 1 in 10 small appliances were purchased at Walmart, that retailer was near the bottom of the ratings for the 14th year in a row. And this year, it’s the only small-appliance retailer to get our worst rating for selection, service, and in-store atmosphere, something to keep in mind if you shop there.

More on Small Appliances

Sears is also toward the bottom of our ratings, getting subpar marks on the specific factors we measure.

However, our members are generally satisfied with their overall shopping experience, regardless of retailer.

"Overall satisfaction measures more than just the individual attributes in our survey," says Martin Lachter, a senior research associate in our survey department.

"So while a retailer may not fare well on certain attributes, members can still have a satisfactory shopping experience at that store overall," he says. "That explains how a retailer with so-so ratings can still rate in the top tier overall.”

Shopping for Small Appliances

Although large appliances are still sold mostly in-store, consumers are becoming more comfortable buying small appliances online. Forty-four percent of our members report they do just that. That’s leveled off recently, but it's up considerably from the 25 percent who purchased small appliances online just four years ago.

And, of course, Amazon isn’t the only place to shop online. If you haven’t tried other retailers on our list that got high ratings, you might want to give and manufacturers that sell direct to consumers a whirl.

Abt’s reach goes way beyond the Chicago area. The retailer delivers nationwide and sells 58 percent of its small appliances online. The websites of JCPenney and Williams-Sonoma are also worth a look. Each sells 42 percent of its small-appliance sales online, though our members give other retailers better marks for selection.

Finding what you want. Major appliances are a major investment, so it makes sense that shoppers want to see and touch the models they’re considering before buying online. But when it comes to small appliances, only 10 percent of buyers do the same thing. About 1 in 5 online shoppers who bought their products on the websites of Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Williams-Sonoma went to see them at a store first. And almost as many online customers of Macy’s and Kohl’s did the same.

Don’t think you can’t make a deal. Most small-appliance shoppers don’t attempt to haggle to get a better price. In fact, only 4 percent try to make a deal. But of that small group, 74 percent were successful, saving a median of $39 per purchase.

How? One in 5 successful hagglers get a lower price simply by asking for it. The same percentage get a deal by checking out prices on other retailers’ websites and asking for a price match. Other good tactics include using price comparison websites or using a smartphone or tablet to search for better prices while in a store.

The Best Small-Appliance Retailers

Below, CR members can read ratings and reviews of the six top small-appliance retailers in our survey. To see how other sellers fare in our appliance store ratings, see our full list of 19 national small-appliance retailers. We also rate independents and manufacturer websites as two separate groups. Looking for a major appliance? Read "The Best Places to Buy Large Appliances."

"Manufacturers who sell directly to consumers get an especially high overall satisfaction score from our members, and independent stores are rated well, too," says Simon Slater, manager of Consumer Reports' survey research group.

Reader score: 95
Where it sells: 42 percent in-store; 58 percent online
CR’s take: Based in a 100,000-square-foot warehouse in Glenview, Ill., outside Chicago, Abt ships nationally. In addition to large and small appliances, it sells electronics, office supplies, power tools, fitness gear, furniture, and mattresses. In our survey, members give Abt a top mark for selection. They also like the prices and the ease of online shopping.

Reader score: 92
Where it sells: 100 percent online
CR’s take: Headquartered in Seattle, this online behemoth has fulfillment centers across the country, which probably accounts for its high rating for service. Our members are happy with the wide variety of products and brands, which earns Amazon a top mark for selection. It also receives a high rating for prices. Not surprisingly, the online-only seller earns our best rating for website usability and a thumbs-up for price and service.
Reader score: 92
Where it sells: 100 percent online
CR’s take: QVC began as a shopping channel on cable TV and, in addition, now has a robust shopping website. Small-appliance sales are just part of its wide array of products, which include celebrity fashions, beauty products, and more. Our members give it favorable ratings for price, service, and website usability, but only a middle-of-the-road mark for selection.

Reader score: 92
Where it sells: 88 percent in-store; 12 percent online
CR’s take: You have to be a member to shop at a Costco Warehouse. Since it was founded as Price Club in 1976, Costco has developed a huge membership base. It uses this buying power to offer a highly curated number of products to its members, including appliances, groceries, furniture, and electronics. Because it carries fewer models than other stores, it’s not surprising that Costco gets dinged for selection from our members. It also gets a subpar rating for service. But it earns favorable ratings for prices and in-store atmosphere.

Reader score: 91
Where it sells: 58 percent in-store; 42 percent online
CR’s take: This high-end retailer, which was founded in California wine country, sells everything for avid cooks and those who like to entertain, including tableware, glassware, and silverware. This includes small appliances from upscale brands. Because it sells a limited number of top-tier brands, that's probably why it earns only a middling rating for price and selection from our members. But its well-appointed stores earn a top mark for in-store atmosphere and service, and website usability is also well-regarded.

Reader score: 90
Where it sells: 58 percent in-store; 42 percent online
CR’s take: While JCPenney is mostly known for selling clothing and home goods, it does devote some floor space to small and large appliances. This is the first time it has appeared on our list of top small-appliance retailers, and it makes a strong showing, earning a favorable mark for price. Its selection, however, is unremarkable.