There’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Free Shipping Day and Green Monday. Now add “National Returns Day” to the list of days during the holiday season that stand out for one reason or another.

This story first appeared in the January 4, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

UPS dubbed Jan. 3 National Returns Day because, according to the company’s statistics, it is the biggest day this year for making returns to retailers. UPS expected to ship more than 520,000 returns packages back to retailers that day. During the first week of January, the firm expects to ship 2 million returns packages.

Returns are mounting because of the rapid rise of e-commerce and because of “bracketing,” where consumers buy apparel or shoes in more than one size and return those that don’t fit. Some companies routinely send alternative sizes of the same item, as a service to customers, and expect they’ll return the sizes that don’t fit.

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Returns are always highest in January, following all the gift-giving for Christmas and Hanukkah. Based on peak season data and UPS historical data, the company said it can predict the day in January when the highest volume of post-holiday returns will occur. Next year, National Returns Day could fall on another day in January.

Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving, when retailers unleash a battery of deals to spur gift shopping. It’s considered one of the biggest volume days of the year and the traditional kick off for holiday shopping. Cyber Monday is for many retailers their biggest online volume day when they aggressively encourage shopping online. It’s the first Monday after Thanksgiving.

Green Monday was coined by eBay to describe its best sales day in December, which is traditionally the second Monday of December. ComScore defines it as the Monday with at least 10 days prior to Christmas. Free Shipping Day is a day when many retailers offer free shipping and say it’s the last day for guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve.

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