July 13, 2010, 5:32 PM

Someone in North Dakota is buying a lot online

North Dakota is the top state in online purchasing as percentage of income.

Lead Photo

Murali Subbarao, Billeo CEO

In which state do consumers spend the highest percentage of their income online? Come on down if you said North Dakota, where consumers—at least those using the Billeo online shopping service—spent 16.2% of the median household income making retail and travel purchases online last year.

The theory that little access to bricks-and-mortar stores accounts for the high web spending in the Flickertail State is refuted by Billeo data showing consumers in neighboring South Dakota spending only 2.1% of that state’s median household income online.

Billeo CEO and co-founder Murali Subbarao admits he can’t explain the difference between the results in the two Dakotas. “The media income is about the same,” he says, “yet they are at the opposite ends of the spectrum.”

The state with the lowest percentage of household income being spent online was Maine at 1.8%; Louisiana was second after North Dakota at 9.2%.

Billeo provided the data based on more than 20,000 web transactions with a value of more than $50 million using its online shopping service in 2009. The demographics and geographic distribution of Billeo users is generally representative of the U.S. population, Subbarao says.

One hint to the high spending in North Dakota was that it was the only state where specialty retailers accounted for the largest share of sales in dollar terms, at 19%. In most other states the highest categories were business and office products, computers and travel.

Amazon accounted for the most Billeo transactions in all 50 states. There was no clear No. 2, although wireless network Verizon and Southwest Airlines held the second spot in four states, and TV and web retailer QVC, a unit of Liberty Media Corp., was second in three.

This was the first time Billeo analyzed its shopping data, seeking to uncover trends such as in which regions online shopping is most popular, and which categories and retailers online shoppers favor. Subbarao says Billeo plans to do a similar analysis this year to see if there are any meaningful shifts in the results.

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