Back-to-School: The Need for Necessities


Back-to-school is quickly approaching, and we have a question: What do we all really need?

For us at Blackhawk Network, back-to-school means we need to write another promotions blog filled with stats, insights and information to help you make the most of the second biggest spending event of the year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). It also means we need to thank the NRF for providing all this information. Every year, they do a great job of researching and providing retail holiday and seasonal trends that help businesses optimize each of the big shopping events. Thank you, NRF.

For retailers, you need to grab the biggest share of back-to-school spending you can. The best way we know of to get that done is to take advantage your gift card program and your expanding promotional abilities.

Speaking of customers, back-to-school this year isn’t going to be about fun, luxury and great experiences. Because of our current economic situation (more on this later), your customers need necessities.

That’s the big concept for today, and it just might change how you approach back-to-school.

Let’s start with the numbers

The NRF Back-to-School 2022 survey is now available, and it looks like another very strong back-to-school shopping season. In fact:

We’ve enjoyed 25 straight months of year-over-year increases in retail sales.
And this year’s sales project to be 7% above 2021 levels.

So, yes, people are still spending. The sales projections line right up with that:

Each family with children in grade school
plans to spend $864-a total of $37 billion!
Each family with college students
plans to spend $1,199-a total of $74 billion!
That’s $111 billion combined!
And that’s a lot of zeros (and exclamation points)!

Of course, that’s not the whole story. We still have the whole necessities thing to cover. That means more insights.

Just keep reading. (Isn’t this exciting?)

This is where the necessities come in

We don’t really know about a recession, yet-but inflation is real:

For the 12 months that ended June of 2022
the annual U.S. inflation rate was 9.1%,
the largest annual increase since late 1981.

While consumers continue to spend at record rates, they’re paying higher prices for almost everything-including everyday necessities, like school supplies.

How are consumers reacting to these higher prices? Again, we have the NRF to thank for some interesting info.

The top five ways consumers are reacting to higher prices on everyday necessities:

1. They’re switching to cheaper alternatives

2. They’re looking for coupons or sales more often

3. They’re buying different brands than usual (i.e., store brands)

4. They’re shopping at discount stores

5. They’re cutting back in other areas to spend on these purchases

Although this isn’t great news for all of us that need to buy necessities (in other words, all of us), this is great news for retailers like you. Because gift card promotions fit the 2022 back-to-school season and economy like a new pair of jeans.

You could give them a free $10 gift card with the purchase of a backpack, for example. It drives them to your store for the deal, then brings them back later to shop (and spend) again with their gift card.

They’re happy. You’re happy. And that makes us happy.

Offering shoppers more value for their money-on the things they need, from your store, right now-is exactly what they want. And you have the gift card promotion capabilities to make all this work perfectly.

So, you can grab more of that $111 billion in back-to-school spending-which is all you need to do.

You need to talk to Blackhawk Network

You don’t have to do all this on your own. Whether you want a little help or complete program management, the promotional experts at Blackhawk Network are standing by.

Just click here to get started or call 866.219.7533.


* The NRF Annual Back-to-School Spending Survey, 2022

Global BHN - Start A Conversation