It’s still a good few days before Christmas, but presents that should be either under a tree or hidden behind your mom’s shoes in your parents’ closet are currently on a UPS truck.
According to several sources in the UPS, the shipping company is expecting over 1.5 million presents to be returned to online retailers. According to the vice president of U.S. marketing for the UPS, Kathleen Marran, “not all of these are actually Christmas presents. They may be presents to ourselves first. We see a lot of self-gifting that happens from those great deals that happen for Cyber week.” With recent improvements to online shopping systems (not to mention copious sales), many consumers are buying gifts in relative bulk for both themselves and their families. In the event that the recipient doesn’t like the gift, the shopper merely sends it back and orders something else. UPS research actually indicates that it’s for this purpose that free return shipping is a deciding factor in many shoppers’ choice of retailer.
In previous years, there were still mass returns of holiday presents, but they didn’t usually occur until after the New Year. UPS expects a second wave of returns on January 3rd on top of the current one. In total, they are estimating 800 million packages to have come and gone from retailers and customers alike by the end of the holiday season.