As online retailers ship out loads of goods this season, parcel carriers already are lugging many of those purchases back on the reverse trip. Of the 800 million packages United Parcel Service Inc. expects to deliver this holiday season, more than 24 million in December alone will be shipments heading back to the sender. UPS estimated Wednesday would be the highest volume day for returns, with shipments reaching 1.5 million—even more than the projected postholiday peak of 1.3 million on Jan. 3.

Roughly a third of this season’s $123 billion in estimated online sales are expected to be returned, according to B-Stock Solutions, which runs online liquidation sites for major retailers.

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