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Passover did not prove to be much of a holiday for the country's merchants, with the average credit card purchase in the three shopping days during the holiday amounting to just NIS 552. In the days leading up to the holiday and throughout March, the average credit card purchase was NIS 602, according to clearing company Gamma.

Gamma data also indicates that the average Passover purchase last year was NIS 597. The company found that this year the average purchase was 7.5 percent off last year's figure, and lower than the Passover 2004 average of NIS 580. The average Passover purchase in 2003, at the height of the recession, was NIS 470 - a factor of low purchasing power for the public in general.

Regional analysis of the figures indicates that the average credit card purchase was highest in northern Israel, at NIS 657. Haifa purchases were in second place, at NIS 629, followed by the Sharon region, at NIS 578. Gamma believes the higher sums charged to credit cards in northern Israel reflect the bed and breakfast industry in that region.

Average spending was highest for security products, with the average charge for products such as reinforced doors and window bars reaching NIS 5,693. These were followed by air-conditioner purchases, which averaged out at NIS 3,903, and tourism services, at NIS 3,624. The smallest average charges were racked up over the holiday at pharmacies - NIS 155.

Gamma CEO Ariel Ganot noted that the figures indicated lively consumer traffic, but most made do with small purchases. "This Passover many consumers opted for outdoor recreation activities and other entertainment outside the major cities, evident in the low volume of purchases at malls, retail chains and smaller stores," he added.