returns

UPS is projecting “record-breaking” returns this holiday season, which will peak on Jan. 2, with 1.9 million returns expected via the carrier’s network. This is a 26 percent increase compared with last year — which also set a record.

The global carrier also said returns will total 1.6 million per day in the week before Christmas.

UPS said the swelling volume of returns “illustrates how e-commerce is changing the way consumers buy during the holidays.” In December, UPS is expecting to ship more than 1 million return packages to retailers and e-commerce sites each day. The company said the spike in returns the week before Christmas “will likely be driven by retailer promotions, which will prompt shoppers to buy gifts early — both for their loved ones and for themselves.”

[Related story: The Four Personas of a Serial Returner]

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

In UPS’ “Pulse of the Online Shopper” study, 73 percent of shoppers polled “said the overall returns experience impacts their likelihood to purchase from a retailer again” while 68 percent said the “returns experience shapes their overall perceptions of a retailer.” More than 40 percent of respondents said “free return shipping contributes most to a positive returns experience.”

Warren said if brands and 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.” He noted UPS offers a host of solutions to help companies do just that.