August 25, 2009

Kmart bringing back ‘blue light specials’

U.S. retailer Kmart says it is bringing back its blue light special in-store sales promotions, 18 years after dropping them.

Tom Aiello, spokesman for Sears Holding Corp., which owns Kmart, told Tuesday's Detroit News the resurrection of the promotion will be used on Saturdays to lure shoppers who have strayed to other big box retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart.

Aiello said Kmart quietly began testing the return of the blue light special in July at stores around the country. In the promotion, a whirling blue light is turned on to signal hour-long surprise sales on merchandise whose prices are slashed from 40 percent to 70 percent, the News reported.

The blue light special was first used in 1965 and eventually became one of the (most recognizable) superbrands any retailer has ever configured, Michael Bernacchi, professor of marketing at University of Detroit Mercy, told the newspaper.

We didn't have anyone running across the store at breakneck speed to be among the first to get to a discounted item, but we've had customers calling their families or friends saying, 'You have to get down here right away,' said Dave VanZandt, manager of a Kmart in Roseville, Mich.