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For the first time, ‘National Returns Day’ has arrived before Christmas

UPS employee Michael Hincman gathering boxes at  the company’s Newbury Street store on Wednesday.
UPS employee Michael Hincman gathering boxes at the company’s Newbury Street store on Wednesday. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

As some stressed shoppers scrambled on Wednesday to put presents under the tree less than a week before Christmas, many other consumers were sending items back to retailers.

Atlanta-based United Parcel Service estimated that 1.5 million packages were being returned Wednesday, which the company had dubbed National Returns Day. UPS has been marking the day since 2012, but this year — for the first time — the designated day came before Christmas, thanks to the rise of e-commerce and the stretched-out Black Friday sales period.

“Buying habits are changing for consumers, and at the same time merchants are offering good deals earlier,” said Kathleen Marran, vice president of US marketing for UPS.

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Consumers on Wednesday flooded the UPS store on Newbury Street to return Amazon packages and other products, said James Coburn, director of operations for six of the company’s Boston stores.

“The package volume has been increasing every single year,” he said. “We don’t see as much of people shipping to each other necessarily; rather, [it’s] people buying online and making returns.”

Coburn said the high number of returns coincides with the end of the fall semester for the many colleges and universities in the city, which means students are sending back textbooks to online rental companies, such as Amazon and Chegg.

“Every semester we have two to three days that are just nonstop textbooks,” he said.


Allison Hagan can be reached at allison.hagan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @allisonhxgan.