UPS Says National Returns Day Will Be 26% Higher Than 2019

UPS is projecting a 26% increase in its “national returns day” on Jan. 2, 2020, when 1.9 million inbound packages are expected to hit its network as ecommerce shipments continues to balloon in Q4.

This will be preceded by a somewhat smaller returns peak of 1.6 million packages per day the week of Dec. 16, as the continued increase in early retail promotions drives earlier gift purchases and self-purchases. Throughout the month of December, returns will average 1 million packages per day, according to UPS.

“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 in a statement. “Gone are the days where returns were isolated to January – today’s empowered consumers will be sending packages back to retailers all season long.”

Last year, UPS’s peak returns day was Dec. 19, when 1.6 million packages came flying back. This was a departure from the usual early January date due to the massive purchases made on or before Black Friday.

The National Retail Federation estimated that 13% to 15% of all holiday purchases were returned in 2018. That figure is higher for ecommerce orders by most estimates, in the 20% to 30% range, as shoppers have been conditioned by generous policies to make multiple purchases and return what they don’t want.

How returns are handles has become a huge shaping factor in the customer experience. According to UPS’s latest Pulse of the Online Shopper report, 73% of shoppers surveyed said the overall returns experience impacts their likelihood to purchase from a retailer again. More than two-thirds (68%) said the returns experience shapes their overall perceptions of a retailer, while 42% said free return shipping is the greatest contributor to a positive experience.

UPS has more than 15,000 Access Point locations, including 4,800 retail stores, where customers can drop off returns. In 2019, UPS added Michaels and CVS stores to its Access Point network. In addition to its stores, FedEx returns are accepted at Walgreens, Dollar General, Kroger and Albertson’s.

Amazon has also stepped up its returns network, adding dropoff locations this year through partnerships with Kohl’s – which began in 2017 and expanded chain-wide in 2019 – and Stein Mart.

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