A more informed consumer, an increase in funeral shopping and the rise of modern, creative funeral directors has seen a shift in funeral volumes to smaller independent funeral homes, according to eziFunerals.
In the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS, 2017), there were 160,909 deaths registered in Australia – an increase of around two per cent on the previous year. However, despite an increase in death rates, Australia’s two largest funeral companies , InvoCare (IVC:ASX) and Propel Funeral Partners (PFP:ASX) have reported weaker funeral volumes.
Both InvoCare and Propel have recently provided trading updates to the ASX and shareholders, indicating weak industry volumes over the Winter period, which has extended into October and November. According to JP Morgan, in October 2018, Invocare reported that comparable business funeral volumes were down around 2,000 for the 9 months to September 2018, impacting group revenue by A$17m. Propel has also predicted lower funeral volumes in 1H19, on a comparable basis. Each has flagged a relatively benign flu season as the reason for the lower volumes.
Peter Erceg, Founder of eziFunerals believes that there may be other factors at play, which will continue to significantly impact on funeral volumes in the future. The introduction of funeral disruptors and the rise of small and modern independent funeral homes.
Since its launch in 2017, eziFunerals and other comparison websites have experienced considerable growth in consumer traffic. ‘More consumers are shopping around for funeral services’, he says.
Chapter House Funerals, founder and chief executive, Troy Upfield said, ‘a mild flu season did not have a major impact on our business. I can’t understand why the large funeral chains are reporting lower volumes when he and other smaller independent funeral homes experienced growth in the corresponding period’, he says.
Troy believes that consumers are much more informed when it comes to the funeral industry and has noticed a shift to smaller family owned funeral homes. ‘Chapter House Funerals is a small family owned businesses that provide real value for money when compared to the large corporate brands’, he said.
‘Consumers understand that it is common practice for staff of multiple brands to swap ties, scarves and magnets on the side of hearses in between funerals to represent the brand to which you made the ‘first call’. If you contact some well-known corporate funeral brands, you are likely to get the same person, lead company, staff, hearse, and service, just a different brand with a separate marketing budget, he says.
eziFunerals urges consumers to continue to shop around for funeral services. ‘Not all funeral directors are the same. So it pays to do your homework!’ By asking the right questions, comparing funeral homes and making informed choices, you can save time, money and unnecessary grief.
eziFunerals is a free consumer advocacy and funeral planning platform that supports individuals and families cope with end of life decisions, death and funerals. We are an independent, Australian-owned and operated company, and are not a subsidiary of any other corporation. We are not part of any other funeral company. Founded by consumers frustrated by how difficult it was to get independent information, eziFunerals supports consumers plan a funeral, compare prices and select the right funeral director anywhere, anytime.