UPS could handle around 5 million more returns connected to the 2022 peak season compared to one year ago, according to a company spokesperson.
The delivery giant is expected to encounter up to 70 million returns from Nov. 20 to Jan. 21, spokesperson Jim Mayer said Tuesday. That would be an uptick from the previous peak returns season, when the company ended up handling around 65 million return packages, he added.
A wave of returns is expected after the mass exchanging of gifts throughout and after the holidays. UPS' estimated growth in peak returns, however, outpaces what the retail industry is expecting: 2022 holiday return rates are projected to stay flat compared to the year prior at 17.9%, according to a report from Appriss Retail and the National Retail Federation. But in the year as a whole, overall online return rates cooled off and fell in line with total return rates for the first time since 2019.
“Even with 29 continuous months of retail sales growth, consumers have remained steady with the overall rate of merchandise returned to retailers this year,” said Mark Mathews, NRF’s vice president of research development and industry analysis, in a statement.
Mayer said customers being attracted to the convenience of returns made through The UPS Store locations could play a part in the increase the carrier is seeing. The UPS Store expects returns activity to continue to grow in 2023, according to Steve Chambers, its vice president of retail and business development.
“The pandemic led many businesses to rely on online sales, and this turn to e-commerce is a consumer behavior that’s here to stay,” Chambers said in an email. “We also saw many small businesses start, and many of those online-only businesses have a need for a brick and mortar returns presence (customers want to buy online and return in-store).”
Amazon orders are a notable source of returns for The UPS Store, with its customers able to return eligible items for free at more than 4,768 locations, per a 2022 blog post from the e-commerce giant.
More returns could be coming UPS' way via DoorDash. The rapid delivery provider announced Wednesday the launch of a service offering package pickups — with the drop off point being a UPS, FedEx or U.S. Postal Service location — and highlighted its convenience for e-commerce returns.