Declining economic conditions in the UK have caused a surge in demand for secondhand refurbished handsets, according to independent dealers and mobile phone recycling companies.
As the credit crunch has slowly worsened over the past three months, consumers and businesses alike are increasingly turning to both buying and selling secondhand devices to save money.
Mobile recycling companies and dealers said customers were looking to spend less on handsets, even resorting to purchasing ‘retro’ handsets such as the Nokia 3310 and 6310i, rather than connecting to a lengthy contract which includes a free modern handset.
Network retail staff also claimed both consumer and business customers are increasingly opting for SIM-only deals and retaining existing handsets, or purchasing devices from elsewhere, resulting in an increase of refurbished mobile sales.
Macclesfield-based handset recycling and refurbishing company Eazyfone has seen the number of old handsets it receives double from 1,500 to 3,000 per day in four months.
Eazyfone managing director Nick Brown said: “Just yesterday I received more than 400 BlackBerry handsets from a company who were looking to recoup some money, presumably towards an upgrade.
“Certainly in the past few month we have seen a rise in the number of people sending in devices and 25 per cent of those are immediately refurbished and sold back into the UK.”
Another recycling company, Lancaster-based Mopay, also confirmed an increase in business.
Mopay marketing manager Chris Rogerson said: “We checked the numbers during the same period against last year, and they have risen 49 per cent.
“I think it’s a mix of the credit crunch and people becoming aware of the service we offer.”
Watford-based Mazuma sells more than 40,000 handsets per month across the UK and Europe, collecting from consumers, businesses and retailers including The Carphone Warehouse, and echoed a similar rise in business.
Mazuma managing director Charlo Carabott said: “People are certainly looking at ways of saving and making extra money in the current economic climate. £30 now is worth more than £30 last year, which is the average payment for a handset with us.”
Carabott also highlighted retro handsets as some of the most in demand, thanks to car manufacturers such as Mercedes still selling the original car kit connectors for handsets such as the Nokia 6230 and 6310.
This claim was backed by Turn On Your Mobile director Mark Pollak, who runs a business in Wimbledon, London specialising in handset repairs, refurbishing and recycling.
“We recently ran an ad campaign on retro phones and it has been very successful. My best selling handsets at the moment are the Nokia 3310 and 3510 – we are selling hundreds per week,” said Pollak.
Orange, which sells refurbished handsets on eBay, also claims sales are going well.
East London-based dealer Walk and Talk has seen sales double during the credit crunch in refurbished handsets, despite the economic standing effecting footfall in store.
Director Dipak Vora said: “Sales and footfall are down in the business as a whole due to the credit crunch, but the refurbished handset side has increased.
“More customers are coming in looking to purchase good quality secondhand mobiles than before.”
Classifieds website Gumtree said secondhand mobile phone sales have increased four per cent in the past two months.