As online shopping powers a forecasted 26 percent year-over-year volume surge on National Returns Day, the United Parcel Service (UPS) foresees shipping 1.9 million gifts and other products back to U.S. retailers. Jan. 2 is the day with the most activity for holiday returns in the United States, CNBC reported.
Given the widespread availability of free return shipping, U.S. shoppers return more packages than their worldwide contemporaries.
Clothing comprises a significant amount of returns. In some categories, the return rate is near 50 percent due to inconsistent sizing across brands, per IHL Group Founder and President Greg Buzek. He estimated that yearly worldwide losses from retail returns are almost $1 trillion – higher than 2015’s $600 billion.
A 2018 report from the Appriss Retail and National Retail Federation noted that roughly 10 percent of products sold in the U.S. are returned to merchants each, making up approximately $369 billion in lost sales.
The UPS’ 2019 Pulse of the Online Shopper report noted that 30 percent of consumers return items to physical stores, but over double may choose to ship their items back. In the report, UPS said it handled over one million returns each day in December, but did not offer a yearly total.
According to prior reports, Deloitte foresees that approximately $1.1 trillion in merchandise will be purchased between November and January, roughly 4.5 or 5 percent higher than the same period in 2018.
And returns logistics provider Optoro noted that some five billion pounds of returned goods will end up in landfills. Only 10 percent of returned goods are resold through merchants’ websites and stores.
Happy Returns, for its part, has a network of 700 “return bars” where customers can drop off unwanted items. “For a long time, people [in retail] just hoped returns would go away,” said David Sobie, co-founder of the California-based company. “There’s been acknowledgment, especially in the past year, that this is something that needs to be addressed.”