National Returns Day: Online Holiday Shopping Drives Record Returns

US 12/27/16

Atlanta, GA

  • UPS to deliver 1.3 million returns packages to retailers in a single day
  • More than 5.8 million returns packages shipped by UPS in one week
  • Retailers responding to consumer demand with improved customer experience
  • Reverse logistics increasingly important to recovering $260 Billion in lost sales

This year’s record ecommerce sales are driving another record that will help usher in the New Year. National Returns Day, when the most UPS returns packages are sent back to retailers, will reach a new peak on Thursday, January 5, according to UPS (NYSE:UPS).

Holiday shoppers are projected to return 1.3 million packages with UPS on National Returns Day and more than 5.8 million packages during the first full week of January 2017. In 2016, shoppers returned more than 1 million packages on National Returns Day and 5 million packages during the peak returns week.

“Online shoppers want the same level of choice, control and convenience making their returns as they do making their purchases,” said Teresa Finley, chief marketing officer for UPS. “UPS helps retailers provide shoppers with a satisfying returns experience while managing rising returns volume and the complexities of providing a seamless omnichannel shopping experience.”

According to the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper™ study, online shoppers are seeing the improvements that retailers have made to returns programs over the last five years. Between 2012 and 2016, consumers consistently reported fewer issues paying for returns shipping (decreasing from 66% to 50%), paying restocking fees (decreasing from 43% to 27%), and experiencing a delay in receiving credits or refunds (decreasing from 41% to 27%).

“While returns can’t be eliminated, an easy to use returns experience should be one of several retail strategies to enhance customer loyalty and manage the cost of returns processing,”¹ continued Finley. According to the UPS study, 70 percent of online shoppers made an additional purchase when they returned an item to a store and 45 percent made an additional purchase when processing their return on the retailer’s website.

The returns process begins with including the necessary returns paperwork or instructions for the customer to effortlessly complete the transaction. Online shoppers report the best returns experience includes free returns shipping (60%), a hassle-free returns policy (51%), easy-to-print return labels (44%), timely refunds (42%), and a return label in the box (40%).

“Retailers are continuously improving their returns programs,” continued Finley. “The next great opportunity is to unlock the value of these returned products through a sophisticated reverse logistics program.” According to the National Retail Federation, merchandise returns cost U.S. retailers more than $260 Billion in lost sales.²

UPS recently formed a strategic alliance with Optoro, a technology company that helps retailers and manufacturers manage, process and sell returned and excess inventory. Together, the companies provide a one-stop shop reverse logistics solution that combines UPS’s operational and logistics expertise with Optoro’s software platform that maximizes recovery value and reduces environmental waste.

UPS’s portfolio of technology-driven returns services that help retailers deliver the experience shoppers desire include:

  • UPS Access Point™ locations offer secure, convenient delivery and returns through more than 26,000 local retailers, secure lockers, and The UPS Store® locations in North America and Europe;
  • UPS Print Return Labels can be included in outbound shipments to simplify the returns process;
  • UPS Electronic Return Labels can be emailed to consumers directly from UPS to improve their returns experience;
  • UPS Returns Plus allows the merchant to send a driver to deliver a return label and pick up the return package from any address; and
  • UPS Returns® Exchange is when a driver simultaneously picks up the return item in exchange for the replacement item delivery.

1. Percentage of online shoppers who have abandoned an online shopping cart increased from 81% in 2012 to 92% in 2016, UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study, 2016

2. National Retail Federation Annual Return Survey, 2015

About UPS

UPS (NYSE: UPS) is one of the world’s largest package delivery companies with 2019 revenue of $74 billion, and provides a broad range of integrated logistics solutions for customers in more than 220 countries and territories. The company’s more than 500,000 employees embrace a strategy that is simply stated and powerfully executed: Customer First. People Led. Innovation Driven. UPS is committed to reducing its impact on the environment and supporting the communities we serve around the world. UPS also takes a strong and unwavering stance in support of diversity, equality, and inclusion. The company can be found on the Internet at, with more information at and


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