The ‘Refurbished Revolution’ gathers pace

2 mins read

Some interesting new research from the UK technology retailer, Currys, which suggests that the UK is seeing a ‘refurbished revolution’ in consumer tech.

According to its research UK consumers are now more likely to buy second-hand technology (32%) than they are clothes (19%).

The research suggests that environmental concerns appear to be a key driver behind this boom, with 75% of respondents saying they were worried about the amount of e-waste that is currently being produced.

The UK generates the second-highest amount of electronic waste per capita in the world, with half a billion cheap electronic items going to landfill each year and 29% of those interviewed said that they would be more likely to buy refurbished rather than new devices if it helped to reduce their environmental footprint. 

I wonder whether environmental issues are the number one concern or whether this shift reflects economic considerations, considering the cost-of-living crisis that has affected the UK over the past few years.

Whatever is driving this trend Currys is now offering discounts across its refurbished phones to help keep tech in circulation for longer.

The retailer’s research suggests that a combination of deal-savvy consumers and an increasing trust in refurbished retailers are accelerating this boom – with 47% saying that buying refurbished tech appeals to them as it helps to save money, which seems to suggest that might be a more important driver than the environmental impact of e-waste.

A third (34%) suggested that being able to buy from a well-known retailer, like Currys – which offers refurbed customers a 12-month technical guarantee – makes them more likely to shop second-hand.

Digging deeper into the data, the ‘refurbished revolution’ appears to be led by younger generations, with 67% of 18–24-year-olds more likely to buy refurbished tech this year compared to this time last year.

Again, while environmental concerns are very real for this age group – four in five (83%) said that they were concerned by the e-waste crisis; one in three (31%) want to actively reduce their environmental footprint – refurbished tech also appeals to them when it can be bought with flexible credit options.

A quarter (24%) said they would be more likely to buy a refurbished item if it could be purchased with flexible payment options like interest-free credit, compared to the all-ages average of 10%.

There is a movement away from the traditional linear model when it comes to buying electronic devices and this survey points to a growing awareness and adoption of product longevity, refurbishment, re-usage and recycling all of which are becoming increasingly important when it comes to the buying and disposal of electronic devices.

These are throwing up new business models for companies that are increasingly embracing the concepts of circularity and sustainability.