The Top 10 Most Deal-Friendly Online Retailers of 2011

By , dealnews Senior Content Editor

It goes without saying that a retailer's primary objective is to make money — and preferably, a lot of it. In July, STORES released its list of the Top 100 Retailers of 2011, which lists what merchants made the most dinero during the past fiscal year. It may come as no surprise that Walmart overtook its competitors with ease, earning over $300 million in the United States alone.

While the goal of a retailer is to stay in the black, the budget-conscious shopper focuses on which stores offer the best deals. Walmart easily earned the most cash, but does that mean it also offered shoppers the best discounts, above all other merchants? Based on our research, this was not the case.

Walmart may have grossed the most money, but in terms of the quantity of deals it offered, it was still a distant second to the retailer that's arguably the biggest name in online shopping: Amazon. Meanwhile, Amazon ranked 19th in total sales last year. It seems revenue doesn't tell the whole story, when it comes to deal offerings.

Below, we've assembled our list of the Top 10 Most Deal-Friendly Online Stores of 2011. In creating our list, we took into account which of STORES' top 20 merchants appeared on dealnews the most during the same time period. The following is an in-depth look at the top five deal-heavy retailers:

1. Amazon: 8,996 deals

Amazon is synonymous with online shopping, and it makes sense that a site such as dealnews, which relies heavily on buying online, would feature such a high volume of deals from the popular e-commerce site.

What makes it so popular? Perhaps the nearly 9,000 deals we found throughout its inventory, nearly triple what the second merchant on this list offered. (The deals are in part aided by its marketplace offerings, but most of those items listed on dealnews are still fulfilled by Amazon.) It would be easier to list what Amazon doesn't sell, as it boasts deals on apparel, groceries (commonly discounted via Subscribe & Save), electronics, toys (especially during the holidays), and many more. As we mentioned already, the Seattle-based Amazon ranked just 19th in 2010 revenue, per STORES, despite running away with the top spot on our list. With regard to Editors' Choice-level deals, 24% of all Amazon deals were tagged with that distinction.

2. Walmart: 3,144 deals

Walmart was the winner on STORES' list, taking the top spot with an estimated $307,736,000 in domestic sales over the past year. That's almost a $300 million gap over Amazon's total revenue. The fact that Walmart has physical stores, in addition to a web site, most definitely helped boost the retail giant's sales. There's little doubt that Walmart is the crown jewel of brick and mortar stores. However, in terms of online deals, it's Walmart playing chase. Walmart's online offerings are hardly modest, though, and include a mix of items, such as furniture/décor, video games, toys, and apparel. Editors' Choice-level deals made up 12% of Walmart's total offerings.

3: Sears: 1,027 deals

Sears rounds out the top ten on STORES' list while managing to make the top three on our list. Among the most popular items we list are the Sears-exclusive Craftsman tools; over 700 deals from Sears involved Craftsman. Sears' general sales are commonplace on dealnews and typically well-received by readers seeking a variety of deals. Out of Sears' 1,000+ listings, 21% earned the Editors' Choice tag.

4. Best Buy: 857 deals

Best Buy, originally in the 9th spot on STORES' list, ranks quite high here for being a specialized retailer. Of course, the Yellow Tag focuses on tech items, which are considered the "core" of dealnews. (Deals on HDTVs, digital cameras, and computer systems were aplenty from this merchant, for instance.) A full 31% of Best Buy's deals were deemed good enough to earn the Editors' Choice tag.

5. Kohl's: 708 deals

Rounding out the top five is the department store ranked 20th in sales, per STORES. The most common (and popular) offering from Kohl's is apparel, which usually includes additional discounts of up to 20% off, combined with free or reduced shipping. Almost half of deals (40%) from Kohl's were designated as Editors' Choice — the most out of any other store on our list.

The Final Five:

6. Target: 473 deals, 30% Editors' Choice (ranked 3rd by STORES)

7. Home Depot: 442 deals, 14% Editors' Choice (ranked 5th by STORES)

8. Macy's: 272 deals, 22% Editors' Choice (ranked 15th by STORES)

9. Lowe's: 260 deals, 28% Editors' Choice (ranked 8th by STORES)

10. Costco: 154 deals, 27% Editors' Choice (ranked 6th by STORES)

Does Revenue Potential Influence the Amount of Deals Offered?:

Not quite. Walmart may reign supreme in sales, but its brick and mortar stores in fourteen countries, in addition to its online retail operation, certainly help rake in revenue. While Amazon earned much less than Walmart, it had nearly triple the amount of deals (and double the Editors' Choice percentage), firmly establishing itself as the most deal-friendly merchant for online shoppers.

Overall, no store held the same ranking on both lists, and in some cases, they differed drastically. A perfect example is Kohl's, which was 20th in sales, yet 5th in deals — and first in percent Editors' Choice-calibre listings. Meanwhile, Best Buy ranked 9th in sales but was 4th on our list, thanks to a wealth of tech deals. (Incidentally, it's second to Kohl's in Editors' Choice percentage.)

So what did we learn? First, for a deal-seeking shopper, total sales don't tell the whole story. Second, when it comes to offering the most discounts online, Amazon is king.

Top photo courtesy

DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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It's all relative, but those are billions.
I don't know what Dealnews counts as a "deal" for this analysis but if it includes Walmarts listing of "2700 items on sale" then its not realistic.  We don't need Dealnews to tell us that Walmart has 2700 items on sale when they always have that many.  And I'm not going to click on that link to find something in a list of 2700.  I want Dealnews to find the best ones for me.
For Deals, I would say Amazon, because to shop at Walmart I have to pay almost 10% tax.
People of Illinois thank Amazon!

However, there are some cash back websites if you shop at Walmart, but not Amazon.
Brian Moon (DealNews)
I also check the "Sold by:" box when I shop on Amazon. Just makes things easier.
I have noticed more recently that many items being sold on Amazon aren't sold by Amazon.  I prefer a single merchant so I know their return policy without having to look it up each time.  Also, Amazon's prices have gone up over a few years ago, but I still prefer it over the others.  Costco seems to be the second best merchant and has the best return policy.