Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Delivery Companies See Spike in Business on 'National Returns Day' Shoppers Projected to Return 1.3m Packages

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Delivery Companies See Spike in Business on 'National Returns Day' Shoppers Projected to Return 1.3m Packages

Article excerpt

Now is the time to start taking down the lights from the windows and haul the Christmas tree to the curb, while stealing glances at the sweater from your aunt that you've been meaning to send back to the store.

Shoppers returning gifts have long kept retailers busy during the first week of January, but as more shopping shifts online, delivery companies like UPS and FedEx are seeing a bump in business as well.

UPS expects returns to peak today on what it calls National Returns Day, with holiday shoppers projected to return 1.3 million packages with UPS today and more than 5.8 million packages during the first full week of January.

In 2016, shoppers returned more than 5 million packages during the peak returns week, according to the Atlanta-based company.

While Memphis-based FedEx, which operates FedEx Ground in Moon, didn't have specific numbers for this year, the company noted that e-commerce is playing a role in surging return rates.

Certainly, demand for its services in delivering online orders before Christmas was up as volume "more than doubled our daily average on multiple days" during the holidays," spokeswoman Mary Kate Patterson said.

In 2015, retailers surveyed by the Washington, D.C.-based trade group National Retail Federation estimated that total annual returns would reach $260.5 billion, or 8 percent of total annual sales.

Some retailers can use returns to their advantage.

"Yes, there are more returns because there's more online sales volume, but, when we're talking about returns, I don't think it's a negative for brick-and-mortar stores," said Charles O'Shea, lead retail analyst for Moody's Investors Service. "They're an issue for pure play online stores, like Amazon."

When it comes to a typical department store, the advantage is ease of return - there's less fiddling with shipping labels and repackaging required of the customers, he said. …

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