In the funeral profession, we know that cremation rates are on the rise, a trend that has only been accelerated by the pandemic. According to the Cremation Association of North America, the 2020 cremation rate was 54.6%, and in 2022 this number is expected to climb. 

That said, in addition to the rising rates of cremation, we can also expect some other trends relating to cost, availability, and preference for memorial services. Here’s what’s on the horizon in 2022. 

The Cost Will Increase

Although the continuing waves of COVID-19 have undoubtedly contributed to the rising rates of cremation, waning health risks likely won’t hinder the popularity of cremation. With many American families struggling financially, cremations present an affordable alternative to traditional funeral arrangements. The average cost of a burial and funeral is about $8,000, while direct cremations can cost as low as $1,000. 

In 2022, however, the cost of cremation is likely to rise across the board. Part of this can be attributed to supply and demand. More people want cremations, so the prices will spike accordingly. Additionally, increased gas prices, higher fees for cremation permits, and supply chain issues related to equipment. 

Competition Will Be Steep

As the majority of families utilize cremations, many funeral homes are offering those services. In some cases, you can expect to see price wars. So while the overall cost of cremation will likely rise, certain areas might experience increased competition, thus driving down the prices temporarily. 

For example, if a larger funeral company acquires several small businesses with strong cremation portfolios––as is currently happening––they could afford to artificially deflate prices with the hope of running competitors out of business. If they succeed in doing so, prices will likely rise in the aftermath. 

Supply Chain Issues Will Affect Expansions

To address the growing popularity of cremations, many funeral homes are expanding their services by building or purchasing crematoriums of their own; however, the current supply chain crisis is delaying this process. 

In addition to the actual equipment needed for cremation processes, funeral directors are also experiencing a scarcity of construction materials, severely hindering timelines and budgets. Additionally, with nationwide labor shortages, those attempting to expand into the cremation business are facing higher costs for architects and contractors. 

There Will Be a Rising Shift Toward Green Burials

While the rise in overall rates of cremation dominates the conversation, another interesting trend is a growing interest in alternative arrangements. In 2021, the NFDA reported that 72% of families had an interest in green funeral options due to the cost savings, environmental impact, or embracing of new traditions. 

Human composting and aquamation––both of which have only captured small niches of interest––are expected to grow in both availability and popularity. While not as widely available as traditional cremation, these services offer lower price tags and lessened carbon footprints.  

Prepare for What’s Coming 

Between the risks of in-person gatherings, the increased economic precarity, and a continued rise in secularism, Americans are causing a dramatic shift in the way we practice death care. Cremations have eclipsed burials as the most popular option, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down, not to mention the emergence of alternative funeral technologies. 

With competition rising, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve. Many funeral homes that were slow to incorporate cremation into their services are now stuck waiting to expand. Meanwhile, proactive businesses are reaping the rewards of quickly adapting to changing trends. To help make sure your funeral business is prepared for the future, you might consider seeking the help of professionals. 

At Johnson Consulting Group, their team of business professionals is highly skilled in all things related to the death care profession. Whether you’re looking to break into the world of cremation or develop a plan to adapt to shifting trends overall, their experts can take a holistic view of your funeral home and provide pointed and actionable solutions. Owners and managers of funeral homes themselves, JCG consultants are well-versed in all things related to navigating the death care profession, and they’re highly attuned to where it’s heading. 

The pandemic has drastically impacted the way in which we honor our loved ones, and funeral homes must adapt accordingly. To figure out the best way to guide your funeral business through the next decade, Johnson Consulting Group has the expertise it takes.