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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

Holiday Shopping on the Internet: Sensible and Safe

LAS CRUCES -- If your holiday shopping list includes antiques, brand-name clothing, gift tins of nuts, or green chile peanut butter, you can find it all on the internet.

"Products available on the internet are virtually limitless," said Bob Coppedge, economic development specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. "I expect that by next year, the number of companies with on-line shopping service will double."

National retailers such as J.C. Penney's and Land's End have catalog sites on the World Wide Web. In New Mexico, internet shoppers can buy frozen green chile from Hatch, green chile peanut butter from Santa Fe, pecans from Stahmann Farms Inc. in Las Cruces, and pistachios from Eagle Ranch Pistachios in Alamogordo.

Purchasing items electronically saves travel time during the holiday season and often allows consumers to learn about the products and ask questions before buying, Coppedge said. "For example, the Eagle Ranch Pistachios web site has information about the nutritional value of the nuts and where they're grown in the world. It also provides an electronic mail address for customer service where shoppers can ask specific questions before deciding to buy."

New Mexicans also can shop in cyberspace malls. "The New Mexico Malls web site lets you shop in mall stores from Las Cruces to Albuquerque," Coppedge said. "The malls are listed geographically, so if you want to browse in a certain location you just click on that area of the map."

For shoppers who are apprehensive about using their credit cards for electronic shopping, Coppedge offers an alternative. "If you're uncomfortable giving your credit card number on line, you can use the internet as a catalog to decide what items you want. Then, call the company directly to place your order."

Coppedge said internet service providers have better security measures than they did two years ago to protect customers' financial information. "I would say that shopping on the internet is just as safe as shopping over the phone. If you give your credit card number over the phone, it can fall into the wrong hands if the receipts aren't secure."

For unique holiday gifts, Coppedge suggests shopping at smaller New Mexico stores on the internet like Stahmann's (pecans), Superbly Southwestern (chile), Baskets Because (gift baskets), and the Santa Fe Chocolate Factory. "Buying from smaller businesses gives them the opportunity to grow, expand and develop."

To find New Mexico sites and products on the internet, do a search by typing in the name of the company or product. Newspapers, advertising flyers and phone books also may provide companies' internet addresses.

On-line shopping can be a real time-saver, but Coppedge reminds customers to shop early for the holidays. "In general, if you shop earlier you'll get your products earlier, whether you shop in person, or use the internet or the telephone. If you wait until the last minute, you're going to have trouble getting service."