Peak Season for Gadget Trade-ins: Best Time for Buying or Selling Old Electronics?

  • Share
  • Read Later
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

After a huge spree of new device purchases around the holidays, a flood of older gadgets flood the resale and trade-in market.

The holiday period has become peak season for gadget upgrades and, subsequently, gadget unloading. Resale and trade-in services universally report that the year-end device-buying frenzy tends to go hand-in-hand with a spike in consumers seeking some quick cash by selling their older electronics.

“Over a two-week period beginning right after Christmas last year, Gazelle had more trade-ins than it did during most months in 2012,” a spokesperson for Gazelle, the electronic trade-in and resale site, said via e-mail. “During that timeframe, there were nearly double the trade-ins for any other two-week period during that year.”

NextWorth, another electronics-for-cash service, reported that traffic on its site spikes up to 60% in the post-holiday season, and that trade-in transactions rise 18% or so after the holidays. Amazon, meanwhile, reports that the largest increases in Trade-In Program tend to be in autumn, coinciding with the launches of new devices—for instance, Apple introduced its new iPad Air and iPad Mini this past October. But trade-ins at Amazon remain hot long after that.

“We typically see a triple-digit increase in trade-in submissions in September and October,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “That level of activity sustains during the holidays as customers use their old electronics to help fund the purchase of new ones, or for the purchase of holiday gifts. January is also a very strong month as customers trade in items they received as gifts, and students head back to school and refresh their gadgets.”

What with the resale marketplace being flooded with older gadgets, is now a good or bad time to sell? Jim McHose, the CEO of the online pawn service, said that, unfortunately, sellers probably would have gotten more cash for their devices if they’d sold them before the end-of-the-year rush. Even so, it’s not an awful time to sell, if for no other reason than that your older gadgets are probably now just taking up space in your house and are likely to only go down in value the longer you hang onto them. In many cases, there’s good money to be made with a trade-in right now; through December 31, NextWorth has a special granting an extra 25% bonus for any iPod trade-in, regardless of condition or model.

(MORE: 8 Career Resolutions to Put on Your Calendar)

While it’s an OK time to sell old devices, it’s probably an even better time for consumers who are currently in the market to buy older gadgets. “If a buyer is willing to purchase the last generation model, there are some great deals to be had so whoever is selling will have to drop their price,” said PawnGo’s McHose.

True bargain hunters can also take the advice passed along at Reddit recently—to browse sites like Craigslist in the days and weeks ahead because “people are giving stuff away/selling stuff after getting new stuff during the holidays.”

The theory is that there’s a good chance that sellers listing items on Craigslist right after Christmas are eager to simply get their old stuff out of their homes, and also perhaps to raise some money quickly to help them pay for all of the holiday gifts they just purchased. In both cases, this means that sellers will be open for negotiations, and they’ll want to close the deal pronto.