Appliance Store Buying Guide
Getting Started

If you need to replace an appliance, you can’t go wrong by shopping at Abt Electronics and Appliances or Both retailers got high marks from more than 56,500 Consumer Reports’ subscribers who told us about their experiences buying more than 80,000 large and small appliances at almost 30 retailers across the country. And we found that the biggest stores weren’t necessarily the best.

Abt, for example, has one store in suburban Chicago but ships across the country. It topped our Ratings of large appliance retailers for the 7th year in a row. Not to be outdone, it was the 11th year that Amazon was among the top small appliance sellers. Our appliance store Ratings include regional, warehouse, big-box, department store, independent, and online retailers.

Plugged In – Where People Shop

While most appliance purchases are still made in brick-and-mortar stores, online purchases are growing. Thirty percent of small appliance purchases are made online and 13 percent of large appliances are bought that way. In fact, three out of five small appliances purchased online were made on Amazon’s website. Sears and Home Depot dominate large appliance sales with each accounting for about a quarter of all major appliance purchases. Lowe’s isn’t far behind with 18 percent.

Money Matters
Price is what gets shoppers in the door or to the website. Whether a specific brand or model is in stock was another important factor. Surprisingly, only 12 percent of in-store shoppers who bought a large appliance chose a store for its knowledgeable sales staff and just 3 percent of in-store small appliance shoppers picked a store because of that expertise.

How People Shop

Most purchases are still made in brick-and-mortar stores but more than two-thirds of subscribers use the Internet to research their purchase by checking prices, reading reviews, and researching features and performance. More than half of large appliance shoppers visit a retailer’s website before making a purchase at its store or website as do 48 percent of small appliance shoppers.

Alternatively, one-third of shoppers who buy a large appliance online and 11 percent of online small appliance shoppers check out products at a walk-in store first, a practice called showrooming. Shoppers who buy their major appliances on the websites of Lowe’s, Costco, and Home Depot are the most likely to visit a physical showroom first. For small appliances, shoppers buying online from Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Williams-Sonoma, and Kohl’s are the most likely to visit the store beforehand.

It Pays to Haggle

Most appliance shoppers say they don’t attempt to negotiate a better price. By not trying, they are leaving money on the table because most shoppers who try do end up getting a lower price. About 30 percent of large appliance shoppers haggled for a better price and those who succeeded ended up saving a median of $112. Only a small percentage of small appliance shoppers attempted to get a lower price and those who triumphed ended up saving a median of $37. The most common tactic used by successful hagglers was just asking for a better price upfront but checking out prices at other retailers and referring to them was used almost as much. Although online shoppers reported less success than in-store shoppers when they tried to haggle, they succeeded more often than not.

Warranties and Service Contracts

One out of every five major appliance shoppers buys an extended warranty or service contract while only 2 percent of small appliance buyers do the same. Once again our subscribers said that P.C. Richard & Son was the pushiest retailer when it comes to pressuring shoppers into buying an extended warranty to cover a major appliance. And their aggressiveness appears to pay off as 44 percent of people who purchased a major appliance there bought extra coverage, which is considerably higher than the rate of most other retailers in the survey.

Keep in mind that if you are considering a warranty, the period of coverage may differ from retailer to retailer so the cost of the warranties may vary.

Shopping links are provided by eBay Commerce Network and Amazon, which makes it easy to find the right product from a variety of online retailers. Clicking any of the links will take you to the retailer's website to shop for this product. Please note that Consumer Reports collects fees from both eBay Commerce Network and Amazon for referring users. We use 100% of these fees to fund our testing programs.