On 9/26 we wrote:

Give a free item with a purchase, rather than discounting your regular prices. Which of these is a better deal? 1) “These shoes are 50% off” or 2) “Buy one pair, get one pair free.” The fact is that the price of each pair of shoes is the same. But at the end of the day, if you give away a free pair of shoes, the sale price on the receipt will be the same total dollar amount as it has always been. That will help you get the regular price in the future when the economy improves. However, if you give me a 50% discount now, I will expect a huge discount from here on out, and getting me to spend 100% later will be a much more difficult sell. No you don’t have to give away 2 for 1 deal all the time, but any gift with purchase adds value in the customer’s eye. “Buy dinner and get a free appetizer” is an example of a good deal.

In the January 3rd newspaper we read the article “Buy one, get more free”

At a dealership outside Miami, people who agree to buy one Dodge Ram truck can get a second truck or car – free. In 415 supermarkets across the East, customers who bring in a prescription can walk out with free antibiotics. And one clothing chain, not to be outdone, has started offering three suits for the price of one.

An era of desperation marketing is at hand, with stores and automobile dealerships adopting virtually any tactic that might grab the attention of frightened consumers.