According to a FedEx survey, 36 percent of Americans will return a gift this holiday season, with more than half of the 1,000 respondents shipping the gifts back to retailers.
FedEx found the majority of these goods will be returned before the end of January, with 35 percent of those answering the survey returning items between Christmas and New Year's Day.
“Americans are increasingly streamlining their seasonal checklists thanks to the convenience of online shopping, a pattern that is now extending to the post-Christmas tradition of holiday returns,” FedEx's T. Michael Glenn said in a statement.
UPS is also anticipating increased activity after New Year's Day and has even named Jan. 3 national returns day; it expects to handle more than 520,000 packages during that day alone. The company expects to handle more than 2 million packages during the first week of January and has seen a 15 percent, year-over-year, increase in retail returns. The company’s David Sisco said more retailers are focusing on reverse logistics and are offering free returns.
“UPS research shows that 63 percent of online shoppers review a retailer's returns policy before making a purchase,” Sisco said in a statement.
The U.S. Postal Service handled an estimated 658 million pieces of mail on Dec. 17, its busiest day of the holiday season, but the company expects to see heavy shipping activity continue into 2013. Activity fueled by returns begins almost immediately after Christmas and will trail off during the third week of January, according to USPS.
“With the explosion of e-commerce in recent years and the expectations that 2012 will break all records in online retail, USPS expects to enjoy an increase in returns this year,” spokesman John Friess told American Shipper
. He added that hard numbers for holiday shipping volumes won’t be available until late next week, but USPS expects a 20 percent increase this year when compared to 2011 holiday shipping volumes.
USPS recently unveiled its latest shipping advancement in San Francisco, running a test pilot that offers same-day shipping from online retailers. Customers using the Metro Post service can order merchandise as late as 2 p.m. and have it delivered by 8 p.m. According to Friess, USPS is now looking to expand the offering.
“The service is running well,” he said. “We anticipate it will continue to ramp up as we identify and name new marketplace alliances to participate in the market test.” - Jon Ross