In the last decade or so, some major corporations thought it was a good idea to “buy up” a bunch of independent funeral homes because of their financial certainty. After all, everybody has to die, right?
Of course that’s right. But what they don’t have to do is die at early ages like our grandparents did. People are living longer these days. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the average person born in the 1940s lives for 68 years. That number changed in 2001 to 77 years. That means the 1940s generation will likely be sticking around for another 10 years or so before major surges in death take place.
You can chalk that up to better medical car, better nutrition or just the “circle of life.” Either way, it’s a fact of life….er, death. As a result, the funeral home business has been, for lack of a better term, dying.
People are also choosing less expensive options when it comes to burial and funeral services. Cremations are much less expensive than traditional burials and people are choosing more cost-effective products to offset the average $5,000-6,000 cost of a typical funeral that includes a grave, casket, funeral cars and other features.
According to Joshua Slocum, the executive director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, the funeral business is no longer recession-proof. “What that model does not take into account,” he says, “is that more and more consumers are unwilling to be led around by their pocketbooks and charged outrageous prices.” And with corporations taking over the once family-owned funeral homes, high prices have also been a problem in this changing industry. He went on to say that the “cookie cutter approach” that corporations use in some industries is not effective in the funeral industry where personal attention and services are the backbone of success.
Filed Under: Funeral Industry