UPS Will Be Returning More Packages Than Ever- Prior to Christmas

Buying online.

Buying online.

November and December bring around some of the years most known and most loved holidays. What you might not be aware of, however, is that there are multiple “retail holidays” that occur during November and December as well.

Retail holidays aren’t your usual joyous celebrations. Instead, they were created by the retail industry to boost holiday sales. Days like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, and National Returns Day are all some of the lesser known “holidays” around Christmas.

National Returns Day

In 2017, the informal National Returns Day fell on January 5th. According to UPS, over one million packages were returned. That doesn’t include FedEx or USPS returns.

In 2018 over $90 billion worth of gifts were returned in January. [1] Lately though, National Returns Day has been slowly inching closer and closer to Christmas day itself. This holiday season National Returns Day is arriving early. December 19th to be exact.

Throughout December consumers are expected to return over one million packages daily. Ups is expecting 1.5 million returns on December 19th; this will set a new record for the sixth consecutive year. Even with this amount of returns before Christmas, UPS still expects returns to hit 1.3 million packages on January 3rd, 2019.

What’s Causing This?

What’s the cause of all these returns before Christmas even rolls around? There are various reasons ranging from consumers buying items for themselves to simplified returns processes online.

With all of the retailer promotions between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it can be easy to forget about shopping for other people and just buy yourself something before Christmas. Between that and the fact that retailers have worked to simplify their return process, returning anything is easier than ever before.

Easy Returns Equals More Business

You might think that store would want a more complicated return process, to eliminate all of the damaged or pre-worn products they have to take care of. Instead, positive interaction between a consumer and retailer when returning goods can result in a returning customer or larger sales than what the consumer originally purchased.

Optoro, a technology company that helps brands optimize returned and excess inventory, found in a 2017 survey that 71 percent of shoppers said a good returns experience encouraged them to shop from the company again. This year, that number jumped to 97 percent. 89% of shoppers said they were less likely to shop again from a retailer that gave them a bad returns experience. [2]

UPS also looked into what consumers look for when they buy online. A UPS study found that 75% of consumers have shipped returns back, 79% of e-commerce shoppers surveyed said free shipping on returns is key when shopping online and 44% said the biggest hassle with online returns is paying for shipping. In other words to get a great return experience an easy-to-return experience and a no-questions-asked policy is important. [3]

More Returns

UPS anticipates on delivering 800 million packages this holiday season. Over 27 million of those packages are expected to be returned. This is just UPS, not FedEx or USPS or what people bring into a store for returns.

Online retailers that have high prices can still thrive in the retail world because of the fact that they offer free and easy returns. No hassle returns create confidence in the consumer and long term customers who know that they can always return what they bought.


  1. ^Bhattarai, Abha. “UPS says it will handle a record 1.4 million returns on Wednesday.” Washington Post, 2 Jan. 2018, (go back  ↩)
  2. ^Siegel, Rachel. “For the first time, UPS will handle the most returned packages before Christmas.” Washington Post, 19 Dec. 2018, (go back  ↩)
  3. ^“Number Of Packages Returned Expected To Peak Before Christmas, Reflecting E-Commerce Shift.” UPS Pressroom, 19 Dec. 2018, (go back  ↩)

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