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Holiday returns season kicks off earlier than ever

Retailers are gearing up for an onslaught of holiday returns — but not on Dec. 26, or even early January.

This was according to the “UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper” study, which predicts that 1.5 million packages will be returned on Dec. 19, a day the company dubbed “National Returns Day.” The early spike will be lead by consumers who got a jump on online shopping in the days before Black Friday — a move that is kicking off the earliest holiday returns season ever.

In years past, National Returns Day occurred in early January and represented the highest spike of packages for the entire year. Returns are still expected to hit 1.3 million packages on Jan. 3, but this will now represent the second wave of holiday returns. UPS expects to deliver 800 million packages this holiday season.

Optoro, a Washington, D.C.-based technology company that helps retailers and brands optimize their returned and excess inventory, found that 97% of consumers are more likely to buy something again from a retailer with which they had a positive returns experience. Conversely, 89% of customers will not shop again at a retailer or brand where they had a negative returns experience. The top elements of a great returns experience include an easy-to-return online experience and a no-questions-asked policy.

The study also revealed that:
◦ 75% of consumers have shipped returns back to the retailer;
◦ 79% of e-commerce shoppers said free shipping on returns is important when selecting an online retailer;
◦ 44% said the top issue encountered when returning an item online is paying for return shipping

“Leading retailers and brands understand that the returns moment is an increasingly important time to drive future customer loyalty and engagement,” said Tobin Moore, co-founder and CEO of Optoro.
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