Higher than expected sales of the iPhone 11 have led to a glut of pre-holiday trade-ins, and that’s good news for resellers. iPhones are a popular gift during the holidays, and due to high sales volumes of the iPhone 11, this year’s secondhand market volumes have already proven to be larger than in past years. WeSellCellular’s purchasing department has seen a roughly 2.5x increase in the volume of used phones available in the market since the end of September, and we do not yet see volume slowing. Trade-ins of Apple phones tend to hit about four to six weeks after a launch — just in time for your Black Friday sales. Therefore, resellers should have ample opportunity to stock up on used iPhones both prior to Black Friday for their own Black Friday deals and after Black Friday to stock up for the holiday rush.

You can usually get a rough idea of what to expect in terms of trade-ins for the rest of the holiday season by comparing this year’s holiday iPhone sales forecast to that of previous years. The holiday shopping season not only impacts trade-in volume in the fourth quarter, but this increase in volume typically spills well into January and even February, as carriers and their distribution partners process the huge quantity of new trade-ins.

This Year’s iPhone Forecast vs. Prior Years

In 2018, after holiday iPhone sales fell short of estimates, Apple made it trickier to figure out how well its phones were selling by no longer offering unit sales data for devices. 2018 marked the fourth consecutive year that Apple missed its holiday shopping forecast, after it sold a record-breaking 74.5 million phones in the fourth quarter of 2014.

This year’s holiday forecast for new devices is cautiously low. The fourth-quarter forecast has held steady from the prior year at 65 million units, with the new iPhone 11 accounting for 47 million units. For the first time in years, however, sales of new phones may exceed the forecast. The iPhone 11 family had a six-week head start over the previous year’s X models, launching in early September versus late October. And If second hand market trade-ins are any guide, this year looks more like 2014 than the last 4 years.

Apple’s Black Friday Impact on the Second Hand Market

For a brand with a reputation for not holding large sales, Apple usually posts some impressive Black Friday deals on its devices, including the iPhone. Apple’s own Black Friday sales usually involve offering consumers who purchase a new iPhone specific discounts on other products like Apple gift cards and accessories. The best Black Friday deals on iPhones can usually be  found at big box retailers like Walmart Sam’s Club and by carriers like Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint.

It is also important to note that sales of the new iPhone around Black Friday and the holidays are not the only factor that impacts second hand market volumes. Volumes are also impacted by the level of promotion that carriers and retailers do around their trade in programs. This year, trade in promotions during the launch were substantially more aggressive than in prior years. In his earnings announcement, Tim Cook claimed that trade-in in the Apple store were 5X what they had been last year!

It is logical to assume that these heavy trade in promotions will continue through Black Friday and into the holiday season. This, in addition to aggressive Black Friday deals, should lead to another large wave of trade ins of  phones. If you play your cards right, you can stock up now at advantageous prices and profit as pricing stabilizes over the next month or so.

The Bottom Line

While the initial excitement over the iPhone 11 has come and gone since the device’s September launch, the holiday season will offer a second wave of consumers  trading in their old phones. Apple heavily promoted its iPhone trade-in program at its retail locations and on its website throughout much of 2019, and that has led to a huge increase in the number of people trading in older phones that are still very much in demand. We have every expectation that the trade-in season will be big, and you can capitalize on the relatively predictable cycle of trade-ins related to new device releases and Black Friday sales to restock your inventory for the holidays. The key to having a great holiday shopping season is finding a reliable wholesale supplier that understands the seasonal shifts of this dynamic market and has access to a consistent supply of handsets thanks to relationships with big box retailers, carriers, and Apple.

Ready to start stocking up? Whether you are a retailer, wholesaler, distributor, or refurbisher, WeSellCellular can help you find the devices you need, when you need them.