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Refurbished smartphone market shows no sign of a slow down but is there a supply bump in the road?

Q1 has seen a number of reports published that all point to a burgeoning refurbished smartphone market with plenty of future potential for the channel. According to IDC, the worldwide market for used smartphones is forecast to reach 431.1 million units with a market value of $109.7 billion in 2027, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.8% from 2022 to 2027.

The Recommerce© Barometer, produced in partnership with Vodafone, and published during last week’s MWC event, indicates that half of consumers surveyed will consider a refurbished smartphone for their next purchase, with consumers in Romania and Spain at 60%. 

Nick Dutch, Vodafone Global Head of Device Lifecycle Services, said: “Customers are now considering refurbished devices more than ever, so that they can get a great value phone that is better for the planet than buying a new one.” The survey, now in its 6th year, polled just under 8000 respondents across 12 countries.

GfK’s Tech360 Survey showed that a quarter of all phones sold in the UK were either refurbished or second-hand. The findings also found a shift in consumer behaviour with the largest share of new buyers (35%) with phones that were 2-3 years old versus 2022 where phones that were being replaced were 1-2 years old.

The only note of caution is a potential slow down due to supply. Anthony Scarsella, Research Manager with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, commented, "Despite the near 10% growth, the secondary market is showing signs of slowdown due to a genuine lack of inventory." The Recommerce© Barometer Survey also found that 38% of respondents would continue to keep their old smartphones in case of need. Even with trade-in incentives at many retailers and e-tailers available, device collection continues to be a challenge for the industry.





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