One would think these might be boom times for the big funeral chains given the Covid-19 pandemic. But with Australia having only 103 deaths, demand hasn’t been good for shareholders.
They both have reported lower volumes and indicated that the pandemic could even be bad for its business in the coming months due to Covid19 restrictions and better hygiene practices.
That seeming contradiction is explained by looking at the other factors that come into play. Yes, the pandemic is generating more deaths, but there is more going on:
- Social distancing measures, increased vaccinations and an increased focus on personal hygiene may result in a relatively mild flu season in 2020 and a deferral of death volumes into future periods.
- Because of social distancing rules, conventional funerals are being replaced by simpler functions with streaming video rather than large gatherings, thus pulling down the revenue per funeral. Restrictions on funeral attendance limited the both companies’ ability to operate its full range of services.
- The economic crisis accompanying the pandemic is making consumers more cautious, leading them to order fewer high-end funerals. PFP and IVC have reported its average revenue per funeral in April 2020 actually dropped 10-13 per cent compared to April 2019.
- Many of the funerals are for elderly people who might have died in the next few years; revenue today will be at the cost of funeral revenues that would be earned in the future.
Not so for family owned and Independent Funeral Homes
Although it’s been bad news for the big funeral chains, it is a different story for the small family owned and independent funeral homes.
With lower overheads and expenses, independent funeral homes have reported an increase in volumes as consumers look to lower costs and value for money.
According to Carly Dalton, President of the Association of Independent Funeral Professionals and owner of GreenHaven Funerals “Our members have reported a strong demand for independent funeral services, both religious and non-religious”.
“Many of our families have still wanted to proceed with full services even though numbers attending have been limited by the government restrictions currently in force. Each family and each funeral has had it’s own challenges to negotiate as we navigate the funeral service against the backdrop of COVID-19 and enforced restrictions on gatherings”.
“One thing for certain though, is that independent funeral professionals have been consistently busy, continuing to proudly support families to honour the life and say farewell in whichever way they choose”, she said.
eziFunerals 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.