Skip to main content

'Tis the season for returning gifts: UPS expects to break records

Buying more things online means Americans are also sending back more packages

It's a pretty unavoidable effect of more people buying things online: more people are returning things they bought online. (Or things other people bought for them.)

The next few weeks are likely to see packages sent back to retailers at a pace we've never seen before.

Who benefits from that? Well, the people who haul those packages back and forth definitely do.

UPS said Tuesday it expects to set a new record on a day the company calls National Returns Day. They've calculated that on Thursday, Jan. 5 they'll be sending 1.3 million deliveries back where they came from.

According to their projections, the first week in January will see more than 5.8 million packages returned. Both numbers would set new records by breaking this past year's totals.

But UPS says customers benefit from all these returns, too, by getting what they really want – and sending back what they don't want.

In a big study of online shopping UPS did this year, they say consumers feel like the return process has improved over the last few years – with fewer problems, fees, and delays.

They also found that when online shoppers are returning an item to a store most of them (about 70 percent) also make another purchase.

Lots of in-person returns, too

That two-fer of returning something and buying something else was also one of the things that made the day after Christmas one of the busiest of the year for retailers.

Plenty of stores had post-holiday sales on Monday and lots of shoppers were armed with gift cards. The retail consultants at ShopperTrak predicted months ago that Dec. 26 would be second only to Black Friday as the busiest shopping days of the year at stores.

But even if they make some residual sales, a week with millions of returns is generally not a good thing for retailers.

A study by the National Retail Federation says returned items cost American companies $260 billion in lost sales last year. And here's some perspective: the federation says a company as big as that would take over the number 3 spot on the Fortune 500.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-08-04 at 4.49.39 PM

Charges: Best Western employees helped MOA shooting suspects escape

Prosecutors allege two Best Western employees helped the suspects escape.

election, vote

What to watch for in 2022 Minnesota primary elections

Bring Me The News brings you a breakdown of what to watch for Tuesday.

Aaron Peterson

Charges: Felon accused of firing shots at police during Meeker Co. standoff

The 31-year-old surrendered after a 28-hour standoff in rural Meeker County.

flash flooding

Weekend rain totals pushed 6+ inches in Minnesota, Iowa; 10 in Illinois

Big-time rain totals across southern Minnesota, southeast South Dakota, northern Iowa and northern Illinois.

Airport traveler flying pixabay

Man who had meth, guns in checked luggage at MSP Airport gets 10 years

Kevin Alan Aguilar-Moreno, 21, attempted to board a Delta flight to Phoenix in October of last year.

Screen Shot 2022-08-08 at 7.13.33 AM

Family identifies man killed by police in Otsego

The 21-year-old was reportedly experiencing 'mental health challenges' and allegedly had a knife when deputies opened fire.

88 S 11th St, Minneapolis, Minnesota - April 2022 (1)

Gun found on WCCO-TV rooftop after homicide in Minneapolis

It's the 56th death reported as a homicide in Minneapolis this year.

Screen Shot 2022-08-07 at 11.43.15 AM

Deputies fatally shoot man in Wright County

Police claim the man, who had allegedly been experiencing a mental health crisis, was armed with a knife.

Ambulance hospital emergency

17-year-old killed in northern Minnesota crash Saturday

The other drive involved in the crash, a 75-year-old man, sustained life-threatening injuries.


Alcohol a factor as driver rolls ATV into corn field, injuring 3

The crash occurred in Lake Lillian Saturday night.

Minneapolis police

Man dies after being found shot at Minneapolis' 38th and Chicago

Responders were called to the scene early Sunday morning.


Best Buy has free 2-day shipping for all you last-minute shoppers

There's not much time left to finish that holiday shopping.

Report: This is the last holiday season for the Minneapolis Macy's

Twin Cities Business reports Macy's has told Minneapolis it will close its Nicollet Mall store in 2017

Stuck for Christmas ideas? Check out these original, MN-made gifts

Stuck for Christmas gift ideas as time runs out? Here are some original options made right here in Minnesota.

Target's free shipping minimum goes up – right when Amazon's goes down

You'll have to spend more for free shipping on orders.

What's open, what's closed on Memorial Day

Also find out what Memorial Day events are taking place across the state.

Best Buy goes right at Amazon Prime Day with its own big discounts

Amazon's Prime Day starts Monday and runs through Tuesday – but Best Buy has its own deals lined up.

Duluth-based maurices could be hit with serious store closures

Because the company that owns it is not doing well.