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UPS forecasts record holiday returns volume, with two big spikes

A new forecasts predicts the two busiest days of holiday returns.

UPS projects that holiday returns will peak on January 2, 2020, dubbed “National Returns Day” by the shipping giant, with 1.9 million returns taking place. The volume represents a 26% increase from last year’s peak returns day. 

An initial spike in returns is expected the week before Christmas, with 1.6 million packages being returned each day the week of Dec. 16. This first spike will likely be driven by retailer promotions, which will prompt shoppers to buy  early – both for others and  for themselves.

“As retailers start preparing for the busy holiday season, they should certainly be factoring returns into their business plans,” said Kevin Warren, UPS’s chief marketing officer. “Gone are the days where returns were isolated to January – today’s empowered consumers will be sending packages back to retailers all season long.”

Research continues to show that to succeed in e-commerce retailers must offer comprehensive returns services. UPS’s 2019 Pulse of the Online Shopper study found that:   

  • 73% of shoppers surveyed said the overall returns experience impacts their likelihood to purchase from a retailer again;
  • 68% of survey respondents agree that the returns experience shapes their overall perceptions of a retailer;
  • 42% said free return shipping contributes most to a positive returns experience; and
  • Top elements of a great returns experience include proactive communications, flexible return options and transparency.

“If retailers want to be considered a ‘Returns Rockstar’ this holiday season, they will need to be prepared to offer a seamless, hassle-free returns experience to consumers,” added Warren.

UPS operates more than 4,800 The UPS Store locations,  and a total of 15,000 “access point” locations in the U.S. The company’s access point network was recently expanded to include Michaels and CVS stores 



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