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These are tough times and consumers are feeling the bite. Surveys show they're shopping less and buying cheaper items. In this atmosphere, retailers wanted to know: What tempts the Israeli consumer more, a buy one, get one free offer or a present with the purchase?

It was a close race but the winner is: Israelis would prefer to buy one, get one free, according to a survey by the Manufacturers Association's food industries department, conducted with the Geocartography Institute.

A telephone survey of 600 households, constituting a representative sample of the nation's adult Jewish population, found that 30% chose 1+1 as their favorite bargain. However, 28% voted for a freebee of some other product with their purchase.

Ten percent actually went for the option of "buy a product and receive the opportunity to buy another product at a discount."

Only 3% chose the option of getting a freebee if they bought over a certain sum, and again, only 3% gave top marks to having a free gift packaged with the product they were buying.

Seventeen percent had no preference, by the way, and 9% said they didn't know.

Broken down by age group, the survey found that the opportunity to buy one, get one free won over the majority of 35- to 54-year-olds, and among families with high income. Also, large families liked that best, too.

Younger families and traditional families, and people whose education stopped at high school, had a bias toward the Buy X and Get Y for Free option. Large families did not cavil at this option, either.

While on the subject of food shopping, only 2% of the respondents said they customarily shop for food online.