Skip to navigationSkip to content
AP/Paul Sancya
The blue light is back.

Kmart is turning to an old trick to boost sales

Ashley Rodriguez
By Ashley Rodriguez


Kmart is once again turning to a marketing tactic known as the “Bluelight Special” in an effort to boost sales ahead of the holiday season—a critical period for the ailing discount retailer.

On Friday (Oct. 30), the American chain reinstated 15-minute flash sales at its locations, dubbed “Bluelight Specials” because they are signaled by a blue alarm and an announcement beginning with “Attention Kmart shoppers.”

The marketing approach was first introduced in 1965 by a Kmart assistant manager as a means for clearing out sluggish inventory. It led to a period of strong growth for the retailer, but was discontinued from regular use in 1991.

Throughout the years, the struggling chain has looked back to the initiative during tough times. Former Kmart CEO Chuck Conaway reinstated the sales push after a 10-year haitus in 2001, a year before the company fell into bankruptcy. Kmart executives also brought the blue light back briefly last holiday season.

This time, the move comes after Sears-owned Kmart revamped its marketing team in June and brought on former-DSW executive Kelly Cook as its marketing chief.

Kmart is gearing up for the holidays, a crucial time for the retailer, as sales continue to falter. Same-store sales were down 7.3% during the second quarter of 2015.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.