Sunday, August 13, 2017

Why so many Chicago funeral homes are closing

Crain's Chicago Business reports:
Last year, for the first time, the rate of cremation in the U.S. surpassed conventional interments. In 1960, before the Roman Catholic Church began permitting cremations, fewer than 4 percent of America's dead were cremated. The rate reached 50.2 percent in 2016, according to the National Funeral Directors Association in Brookfield, Wis., which projects that cremations will keep rising to nearly 80 percent by 2035. Most countries already cremate at a higher rate than the U.S., with Canada and Sweden in the 70 percent range and Japan at almost 100 percent.

"Twenty years ago people didn't even want to mention the word cremation," says Mike Nicodemus, the association's vice president of cremation services. "Now people want to save money over burial costs. This change is giving funeral homes real heartburn."

Meanwhile, the National Directory of Morticians Red Book reports that the number of funeral homes in the U.S. has declined every year over the past two decades. The country has 19,322 funeral homes this year, down almost 11 percent from 21,528 in 2004. In New York City, the number of mortuaries has dropped by half since 1990, according to the Metropolitan Funeral Directors Association.
Consumer choice in the news.