Revealed: The Surprising Link Between Refurbished Phones and Black Friday

It’s official: the UK loves refurbished phones.

To celebrate the launch of The Big Phone Store’s Green Friday (i.e. Black Friday) sale, we’ve put together a report that might surprise you.

Using data sourced from Google Trends, The Big Phone Store has revealed a strong upward trend in the popularity of refurbished devices in the UK, with a potentially surprising surge on Black Friday specifically.

The data shows a small spike in Google searches for refurbished iPhones when new models are released (usually in September), but the biggest spike by far each year is over the black friday/cyber monday weekend. And it’s not just iPhones – searches for the word ‘refurbished’ alone show the same trend. 

In this report, we’ll go over our findings, and give our thoughts on why these patterns are starting to emerge.

Our Report


Google Search Trends is a tool that provides access to a metric called ‘relative search volume’. This is a value from 1-100 that measures changes to the relative popularity of a search term over time. The highest value for each time period is always 100, and all values are in comparison to that 100% mark. These values do not measure absolute volume of searches, they measure the relative popularity of a search term, i.e. what proportion of all google searches are for this specific search term at each point in time.

To find this data, a list of 100 terms related to refurbished phones were inputted to Google Search Trends. Google Search Trends data is publicly accessible. All information displayed below was correct as of 11th November 2023.


Of the search terms tested, search interest in the term ‘refurbished iPhone’ shows the most obvious connection between Black Friday / Cyber Monday and interest in refurbished phones. A smaller surge of interest is visible each year in September, when new iPhone models are announced – but this is smaller than the late-november Black Friday surge. This trend is highly likely to repeat over the 2023 Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend, although the surge of interest in September was particularly high this year.

Graph of relative search volume for the search term 'refurbished iphone', showing a general upward trend since 2021, with large spikes over the black friday weekend each year.

When looking at the search term ‘refurbished iPhone’ between 2018 and 2023, the maximum relative search interest was seen over Black Friday 2019. The average search interest across all five Black Fridays was measured at an average of 92.8% of the maximum point, compared to an overall average throughout the year of 56.4%.

While the trend is slightly less strong for the search term ‘refurbished phones’, November is still the high point for this search term each year.

Graph of relative search volume for the search term 'refurbished phones', showing a general upward trend since 2021, with noticable high points over black friday weekend each year.

A key peice of information to consider is that ‘refurbished iPhone’ is a more popular search term than ‘refurbished phones’, on average attracting more than twice as many searchers:

A graph showing how search interest for 'refurbished iphone' has been much higher than 'refurbished phones' since late 2020.

This yearly spike in interest in Refurbished Phones is part of a broader national trend. In the UK, Google searches for ‘refurbished’ have grown steadily since 2008 – but the impact of Black Friday, which first became a widely-observed phenomenon in the UK around 2013, is noticably becoming more and more pronounced over time:

Graph of relative search volume for the search term 'refurbished iphone', showing a general upward trend since 2008, with spikes in november each year steadily growing larger since 2013.

This shift is particularly noteworthy considering that in the United States, interest in the same search term has declined over the past 15 years, as seen below. In the US data, both December and November are months when search volume for ‘refurbished’ is particularly high. Not only that, the yearly trend of November/December being key months for this search term has become noticably weaker in recent years.

Graph of relative search volume for the search term 'refurbished' in the usa, showing a general downward trend since 2009, with noticable spikes in november each year.

Our Comments

From the above information, it feels clear that iPhone users are much more aware of refurbished devices than the average consumer. This could be in part due to the fact that Apple have their own “certified refurbished” brand. It’s worth noting, however, that Apple’s Certified Refurbished products are practically a different product to any other refurbished phone. Apple Certified Refurbished iPhones are closer to devices made from recycled materials, as both the external casing of the phone and the battery have been replaced with factory-new components.

Green Friday

The spike in interest in refurbished devices goes hand in hand with the ‘Green Friday’ movement, as refurbished phones are an obvious environmentally friendly alternative to buying a brand-new device. Green Friday sales are increasing in popularity, with large-name brands like Currys launching their own sales under the ‘green friday’ label.


One key issue that has always plagued Green Friday is that very often, ethical consumer choices mean paying more money. We’re used to ‘organic’ food items costing more than those that are less responsibly farmed, as one example. For many people, there’s a strong association with making the right choice for the planet, and shelling out cash. This stands at odds with the key attraction of Black Friday – that it’s a day for finding the cheapest deals possible!

That’s where refurbished phones really shine. These products are the perfect example of how sometimes, the most environmentally friendly choice is also the one that saves money.


On balance, Green Friday sales are still far less popular than Black Friday, and we think that these sales are unlikely to be the primary driver behind this trend. Instead, we look to the simple fact that Black Friday is a day dedicated to finding cheap deals, and especially that Cyber Monday is focused on finding cheap consumer electronics. Refurbished phones are a discount product that are strongly relevant to what people are likely to be looking for when they shop online over the Black Friday /Cyber Monday weekend.

While the term ‘cost of living crisis’ has become popular in the years since the global pandemic, costs have been creeping upwards faster than wages for many years. It’s notable that the interest in refurbished devices began to climb in 2008 – which was both the year after the original iPhone was released, and the year of the financial crisis. 

Finally, as the refurbished phone market has grown, so has trust in refurbished devices. While only a few years ago, refurbished phones were typically regarded with suspicion, today nearly every mobile network carries its own line of pre-owned phones. We fully expect this trend to continue in the coming years. 

This article was co-authored by Andrew Norris and Steven Athwal. Click here to read more about The Big Phone Store’s Green Friday sale.