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Funeral business alive and kicking


Marlon Madden

Funeral business alive and kicking

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ONE THING IN LIFE is certain – death – and if there is one business the recession has not impacted significantly, it is funeral homes and services.
Every day, at least 150 000 people die worldwide.
Here in Barbados, dozens of people die each month, thus requiring the services of funeral homes.
BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY spoke with a few funeral homes and they had mixed views on how the recession had affected people’s ability to pay for their services, which can range from $6 000 to over $20 000, and how the business was faring as a whole.
Funeral director James Wilson of Downes & Wilson Funeral Home said that during the ongoing recession, people were choosing affordability over style.
“We haven’t had any recent price increase. We keep our prices to accommodate everyone at this time. To increase the prices would not be good at this time because if people are not working then that would make it more difficult to pay [for funeral services].
“People will always be living, eating and dying. I wouldn’t say it is a recession-proof business but people are being more selective in the kind of funerals they have,” he said.
Wilson noted that Barbadians were “definitely not cremating” and it remained a form of disposal that was rarely used.
David Heeralal, funeral director at Clyde B. Jones Funeral Home Company Limited, said he believed the recession might have affected some people.
“People are going for both style and affordability. I would say that the recession has affected some people’s ability to pay but there are some genuine people and then there are those who give a little problem.
“As for business itself, the recession doesn’t affect us,” said Heeralal.
“Cremation is a cheaper way but I think people prefer to see their loved ones placed in the earth. The cremation is done mostly for religious purposes,” he added.
According to the funeral director of Tudor’s Funeral Home, Sheryl Ann Tudor, sometimes business was “up” and other times it was “down”.
     She said “it all depends on the person shopping for the package”.
“We have not increased our prices recently. Sometimes we might even have to lower our prices. I would say the recession has not affected us that much.
“I don’t know about the rest of the year because one moment things might look up and [then] it goes right back down,” said Tudor.
Keith Jones, owner of Keith Jones Funeral Home, said while he would not say the recession had affected business or people’s ability to pay for funeral expenses, he was of the view that people were shopping around.
“The church fees and the grave fees were increased recently but our fees have not been increased. There are some people who believe in cremation but burial is mostly the first choice.
“People do shop around. I hear people come in and ask for prices and you don’t see them again. They are looking for the most affordable and they also want the best for their money.
“The recession has not really affected people’s ability to pay for their funeral expenses. And if you look at the newspapers you see the amount of death announcements. I find that people are not going for anything elaborate but payments are made better now than before.
“Some people go for the more simple while others go for the elaborate. They are honing their own [choices],” he said.

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