UPS Holiday Returns
by Rockwell Sands @

UPS Holiday Returns Set to Break Records Yet Again

UPS estimates returns for 2021 holiday season to amount to over 60 million packages; figure shatters records set during 2020 return season

Like they are every year the week after the holidays, shipping carriers are busy processing returns. One carrier in particular, UPS, says its holiday returns for 2021 have already shattered records set the year prior. As UPS continues processing returns, these figures will only keep climbing. For the time being, nearly everyone involved in the shipping industry has returns on their minds.

UPS is Facing Massive Holiday Return Volume

When looking at traditional brick-and-mortar retail, one out of ten sales on average ends up in a return. However, returns for eCommerce orders tend to be double—or triple—that rate. Since holiday eCommerce order volume keeps growing every year, so, too, does return volume. In fact, UPS says it’s on track to process over 60 million packages in the time period between November 14th and January 22nd. That figure represents a 10% increase from last year’s return volume for UPS.

Returns and Other Shipping Carriers

UPS may be the largest private carrier in the United States, but all other carriers currently face the same challenges. USPS, FedEx, and Amazon all expect return volume to break records within each of their networks, as well.

Despite their visibility, the major shipping carriers aren’t the only ones involved in handling returns. Processing returns is also the current primary focus for B-Stock, a company who handles inventory auctions for some of the largest retailers in the world. In a quote provided to Insider, B-Stock CEO Howard Rosenberg touched on the huge amount of return volume circulating throughout the United States after the 2021 holiday season.

“We’re gonna move like 150 million individual items for our clients this year,” Rosenberg said. “That’s a lot of stuff.”

The Cost of Returns for Retailers

Huge online sales means huge return volume, and unfortunately, huge return volume means huge costs for retailers. Even with services out there like B-Stock, returns are still one of the most expensive operations for retailers to address. According to a report published on NBC Nightly News, holiday returns typically costs up to two-thirds of the original price paid for the item…and that’s the average. As a result, more and more retailers have opted to offer refunds and let customers keep their items instead, all in hopes of avoiding return costs altogether.

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