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Avoid the Crowds, Go Cybershopping!

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Traditional catalog stores have found an interest in Internet commerce.
RALEIGH — If you want to avoid the crowds, you might want to join millions of peopleshopping on the Internet. It's not as big as mail order, butcybershopping is gaining fast.

It's amazing how choices have grown since last year. Thousands of sitesfor merchants, retail stores, even internet malls offer online buying.

That, coupled with millions of new Internet users who received computerslast holiday season, makes for real opportunities in Internet buying.

Ah, the joys of holiday shopping. Millions of us will "mall" for giftsbut there's a simpler way. Shop on the Internet.

"I don't have to get in and out of my car," says Internet shopper, MiriamKrehbie. "I don't have to fight for the parking spaces. And I don't haveto keep bumping into people or deal with grouchy sales people."

We're used to catalogues and mail order shopping. Now you will find a lotof those items on your computer screen. Cigars? They're easy to orderonline. From bicycles to toys, you'll find plenty of them online. AOLhas a huge directory of online sites from clothing to really unique stuff.Looking for a really big deal? Cyber malls like The Internet Mall, VirtualEmporium, Cybershop and Choice Mall are ready for your business.

"Last December we had about 25,000 people visit Choice Mall," says BorisShimanovsky of Guthy-Renken Internet. "This October, we had well over350,000 people visit Choice Mall, and this holiday season we expect thingsto be even greater."

Internet shopping is booming. This year $2.4 billion dollars will bespent online. By 2001, researchers say that will grow to $17 billiondollars and keep rising.

"This is a great time to test because the merchants are very interestedin hooking you, and getting you to spend your dollars online,"explainsKate Delhagen, analyst with Forrester Research.

With less overhead, online merchants can offer lower prices, free giftwrapping, inexpensive and sometimes free delivery.

Americans spend $4 million dollars a day buying merchandise and serviceson the Internet. There's still concern about security. However, thoseconcerns are being addressed with more secure connections.

Electronic commerce is growing, just in time for holiday buying!

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