The funeral industry is an ever-evolving business. One aspect that has seen significant changes in recent years is the sale of caskets. The traditional practice of buying caskets from funeral homes is on the decline, with fewer and fewer customers choosing to purchase them. Casket prices have also been on the rise, which has contributed to the trend.
The cost of caskets has been rising steadily in recent years. In 2021, the average expense of a coffin in the United States was $2,500 according to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) and this price is going up every year. This price does not include the expense of the funeral ceremony, which can run into the thousands of dollars. With the high cost of caskets, many people are looking for alternative options.
One alternative is to purchase a casket online. Online casket retailers like for example Trusted Caskets offer a wide range of caskets at lower prices than traditional funeral homes. The internet has made it possible for customers to compare prices and features from the comfort of their homes. Online casket retailers also offer the convenience of casket delivery straight to a funeral home, which is particularly appealing to customers who do not have access to transportation.
Another reason why people are not buying caskets from funeral homes is the rise in the popularity of cremation. Cremation has become an increasingly popular choice for Americans in recent years. Cremation is often less expensive than a traditional burial and does not always require a casket. As a result, funeral homes that rely heavily on casket sales may be feeling the effects of this trend.
The decline in religious affiliation is also contributing to the decrease in casket sales. According to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, the percentage of Americans who identify as religiously unaffiliated has been steadily increasing. In 2007, 16% of Americans identified as religiously unaffiliated. By 2014, that number had risen to 22%. Funeral homes that rely on religious traditions and customs may not be able to count on casket sales as a reliable source of revenue.
There are also cultural factors to consider. Many cultures have their own traditions when it comes to funerals and burial practices. For example, in Jewish tradition, the body is traditionally buried in a simple wooden casket. In some cultures, it is customary to bury the body without a casket at all. As the United States becomes more diverse, funeral homes that do not offer culturally sensitive options may find themselves losing business.
The rise of environmental consciousness is another factor to consider. Many people are concerned about the environmental impact of traditional burial practices, which often involve the use of embalming fluid and non-biodegradable caskets. As a result, some people are choosing more environmentally friendly options, such as natural burials or cremation. Funeral homes that do not offer eco-friendly options may find themselves losing business to competitors who do.
In addition to these factors, there are also concerns about the transparency of casket pricing. Funeral homes have traditionally had a monopoly on casket sales, and there have been concerns that customers are being overcharged for caskets. In response, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) passed the Funeral Rule in 1984, which requires funeral homes to provide customers with a price list of all their services, including caskets. However, there are still concerns that some funeral homes may not be fully transparent about their pricing.
So, what does this mean for funeral homes? It is clear that the traditional model of casket sales is no longer sustainable for many funeral homes. Funeral homes that rely heavily on casket sales may need to adapt to changing customer needs and preferences. This may involve offering more affordable casket options, eco-friendly options, or culturally sensitive options. Funeral homes may also need to become more transparent about their pricing and services to build trust with customers.
Another option for funeral homes is to focus on other areas of their business, such as funeral planning, memorial services, and grief counseling. These services may be less affected by the decline in casket sales and can provide a more stable source of revenue for funeral homes. Funeral homes can also explore partnerships and collaborations with other businesses in the funeral industry, such as crematoriums, cemetery operators, and grief support organizations, to diversify their offerings.
In conclusion, the decline in casket sales at funeral homes can be attributed to a variety of factors, including rising casket prices, the popularity of cremation, the decline in religious affiliation, cultural factors, environmental concerns, and concerns about transparency in pricing. Funeral homes that rely heavily on casket sales may need to adapt to changing customer needs and preferences, offer more affordable and diverse options, and focus on other areas of their business to remain competitive in the funeral industry. Ultimately, the funeral industry will continue to evolve as customer preferences and cultural attitudes toward death and mourning change over time.