Study says Hawaii is worst state for online shopping

A state-by-state analysis of online shopping by the web site ranked Hawaii #50 as the worst state to live in for online shopping.

50. Hawaii

Although Hawaii residents don’t pay too much for sales tax (only 4.25% on average), they have to pay the equivalent of overnight shipping for the slowest shipping times in the country. On average, an order shipped to Hawaii costs $19.17 and spends 4.57 days in transit.

It’s interesting to see the comment about Hawaii’s low sales tax, is’t it?

This analysis only takes into account the four factors: Sales tax rate, chance of avoiding sales tax, shipping costs, and average delivery time.

I would have added “availability.” There continue to be sites that simply won’t ship to Hawaii.

What I’m not sure about is whether still has Hawaii on a black list for certain items. Back in 2006, I reported Amazon’s refusal to ship certain items in Hawaii. An inquiry to Investor Relations got this reply at that time:

My name is Eric Layne of’s Executive Customer Relations. Your message has been brought to my attention because my groups mandate is to address and resolve the most acute problems our customers encounter.

Unfortunately, items in our Grocery store can’t be shipped to Alaska or Hawaii. Due to the high transportation costs imposed by carriers for deliveries to Alaska and Hawaii, we are unable to offer shipping to these destinations at this time.

Amazon’s formal shipping policy doesn’t appear to have changed.

Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico Addresses
Some items from our Tools & Hardware, Electronics, and Outdoor Living stores can’t be shipped to Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico if they are extremely heavy, oddly-shaped, or considered hazardous. Additionaly, some items from our Health and Personal Care store cannot be shipped to these destinations. Check the item’s product detail page for eligibility and available shipping options. Only specific shipping options may be available for some addresses. Available shipping options will appear at checkout when you enter a shipping address.

But a spot check of certain items previously unavailable to Hawaii shoppers didn’t get the dreaded “not available in Hawaii” message.

So let me know your recent experiences. Are grocery items now generally available or not? What items are still not shipped to Hawaii at any price?

Do we really deserve to be ranked #50 out of 50 states for online shopping?

39 responses to “Study says Hawaii is worst state for online shopping

  1. Ummm… last I noticed, Hawaii is ‘way off in middle of the Pacific Ocean. That’s why shipping is more than from, say, New York to Ohio.

    One day the USPS might catch up to this, then we’re in worse trouble.

    Hawaii needs to come to terms with reality. Business keeps chasing pipe dreams of leadership. If we had some guano, we would be in a position of leadership, at least until it’s all mined. Short of that, islands in middle of the Pacific have trouble succeeding. We’re lucky our tourism business is strong and that the military needs local services. Or where would be be?

    While we wish shipping were cheaper, it just isn’t. Not that we shouldn’t fight to keep it as reasonable as possible, of course, I’m just saying that there is a reality that can’t be denied.

    • Amazon should be restricted from ANY sales in Hawaii unless they lift the restriction on shipping to Hawaii. Who are they kidding, WE PAY the shipping, they have the right to limit PRIME, but no MY ability to pay for shipping I want. I place an order and they say , NOT to your address. This sucks. Should be illegal and maybe it is restraint of trade between states.

  2. I think APOs get treated better than Hawaii and often times they are in foreign countries.

  3. Burl, Larr, I hope this comment doesn’t come too late for you to read. We can ship UPS ground from Hawaii to the continent.

    It’s much more affordable than 2nd day, and time in transit is reasonable.

    That service began a few years ago, though I don’t recall it being publicized.

  4. Mahina, I’ve been told (some time ago, it’s true) by UPS that I cannot ship by ground since there is no ground service from Hawaii. On the other hand, when HP has sent me a label to return a bad computer part, it has been a “ground” label and it was picked up. That’s all I know.

    For amusement, here is a tracking report of a package shipped from Arizona on March 10 via USPS that I’m still waiting for. Look where it’s been so far (read from the bottom up):

    Processed through Sort Facility, March 24, 2011, 5:20 am, RICHMOND, CA 94804
    Processed through Sort Facility, March 17, 2011, 11:51 am, SPRINGFIELD, MA 01152
    Processed through Sort Facility, March 12, 2011, 5:50 am, BELL GARDENS, CA 90201
    Acceptance, March 10, 2011, 11:26 am, TUCSON, AZ 85713

    Yup, from Arizona to California to Massacheusetts back to California… so far. It could be on the dock waiting for the boat to fill up before it sails to Hawaii. That’s the way mail used to work from India, according to someone in All India Radio replying to why my program schedule arrived 2-3 months late in Tokyo.

    • Aloha Larry,

      It was true before that we couldn’t ship ground UPS, but no more. As it was explained to me by a UPS rep, they have lots of empty space going back to the continent in planes that come here full of consumer goods. They are giving us a break because it’s cheaper than sending the planes back empty. Still if nobody knows about it, I don’t know how much it will help with that problem.

      I ship out via ground track regularly with UPS from Oahu.

      Interesting about the tracking, holy cow.

  5. I have purchased many items online delivered through UPS ground shipping. there is no argument on this point. Thank you, Marina, for focusing on fact.

    • Yes, last week I bought some stuff online (local stores didn’t have the size I needed) that was shipped UPS ground (free shipping!!). I placed the order Monday morning, and received my shipment Friday evening.

      I like that UPS makes residential deliveries in the early evenings–I’ve received a lot of stuff around 6:30 or 7, when I’m home and not at work.

  6. ” there are the outlets that will ONLY ship by UPS or FedEx and will not ship by Priority Mail at a quarter of the cost. Makes no sense at all.”
    Yes. it does.
    If the business does NOT do daily or even weekly trips to the post office, if their streamlined format is UPS or fedups only, they will not deviate. Cuts into profit margin.

  7. Amazon has those private sellers and some of them refuse to ship to Hawaii or Alaska. Ebay is the same, auctions are rampent with “lower 48 states only”. Or people that charge extra for shipping and handling to send things to Hawaii. USPS flat rate boxes are the same for hawaii, there shouldn’t be increased shipping.

  8. It’s no farther from the west coast to here than it is from the west to the east coast.

    • EXACTLY ! But these businesses just don’t get it!

    • That is exactly what I tell companies that tell me “Sorry we don’t ship to Hawaii.” I am sure they ship from NY to Ca! It costs the same for mail east to West coast so why not give us a little consideration!

  9. Puerto Rico is part of the USPS and is much closer to the mainland than Hawaii or Alaska. PR consumer demographics are better than several states. I, and many freinds , spend$1000’s a year on “hassle free”internet purchases from a multitude of providers. I can´t even get Amazon or some Ebay suppliers to send me a CD by mail. Also, some think Priority Mail flat rates are a price list,Duhh! Yet some of the products they sell are “supported by customer servivc in India or the Phillipines”DD

  10. What really frustrated me is there is no relation to size or weight regarding what amazon will ship to Hawaii.

  11. Hawaii does not have a sales tax. Technically it is an excise tax, but the problem is that it gets applied every single time a product changes hands; from importer to wholesaler, to retailer, to final customer. That means an aggregate uplift of over 15% to the final price.

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