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By Mike Brunker

Happy National Returns Day, when too-tight pants, misshapen sweaters and self-help books are most likely to be dispatched back from whence they came.

The creation of UPS, the “holiday” is actually the busiest shipping day of the immediate post-Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus season. Consumers are expected to ship more than a million packages back to retailers on Wednesday alone, and UPS expects to deliver more than 5 million return packages by the end of the first week of January -- – 500,000 more than last year.

UPS, which is celebrating its best holiday shipping performance after several years of snafus, says that even with all those returns -- a trend accelerated by the rise of online shopping -- the cycle of shopping continues on a smaller scale as those unwanted gifts make their way back onto the shelves.

A recent UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study found that 45 percent of consumers say they have returned a gift directly to a retailer that originally sold it, but 42 percent of those said they made a new purchase during the process.

UPS Finally Hit the Mark This Holiday, While FedEx Stumbled Late

If you plan to celebrate National Returns Day by sending back an item or two, pay heed to the advice we published last week: Be sure to read the retailer’s return policy to find out how long you have to send it back, whether you’ll need a receipt, whether there are any restrictions, etc. also got some advice from Retailmenot that may help make your return experience – whether online or in-store – friction free.

If you need some help with packing your gift before shipping, we've got you covered there as well with instructions on the "nesting" technique.