Funeral homes may be busy, but lockdowns mean less ceremonies, which means less business. Turns out more deaths don’t equal more business for death care companies.
The added value that funeral home services offer grieving families is becoming incredibly clear thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Countries are struggling to find a balance that protects the general public while still offering opportunities for people to have a last moment with a loved one dying of COVID-19.
Funeral homes get creative
Initiatives like livestreamed funerals, drive through funerals and immediate family only ceremonies are providing solutions in much needed times like these, however they do not replace the community ceremonies that allow for family and friends to mourn together and share that warm embrace.
Social distancing and lockdown effects on the market
Social distancing is weighing heavily on the funeral industry and the largest US funeral corporations have seen sales plummeting and as a result drops in their share value.
Falling stocks in the Death Care Industry
- Service Corporation International, which runs over 1,900 funeral homes, had hit a record high just over a month ago (on March 4th) and has now dropped almost 30%.
- Carriage Services Inc. has seen a similar drop of about 30%.
- Matthews International Corp which sells caskets and other funeral products dropped about 30%.
- Hillenbrand, Inc which sells caskets and other funeral products dropped about 30%.
- These significant drops are also being mirrored internationally. With the Australian stock exchange indicating a similar pattern.
The drop in shares of the largest funeral corporations can be explained by investors losing trust in the market as families choose more economic casket options versus the standard more profitable services.
An understandable choice at the moment considering ceremonies aren’t possible. Which also means that no additional services needed like celebrants, flower decorations, catering options, etcetera. As a result many funeral homes in the heavily affected areas are struggling, as they are making double the amount of hours but without the much needed revenue that normally comes with a funeral.
Many countries in Europe are now stabilizing their death rate numbers, as well as many of the states in America being at the beginning of peak stabilization. However, the effects of this pandemic on the culture around funerals and as a result funeral homes have yet to be seen.