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Brooke Sutherland

Perishing Casket Sales Aren’t a Death Sentence

As more people choose cremation, Hillenbrand is using the cash flow from its shrinking casket business to transform into a diversified industrial company. 

More people are choosing urns over caskets.

More people are choosing urns over caskets.

Photographer: Chris Hondros/Getty Images

The sale of caskets is a dying business. 

More than 1 million Americans have died from Covid-19 since early 2020, but those excess deaths haven’t necessarily translated into a sustained spike in burial volumes. Nearly two-thirds of funeral homes that belong to the National Funeral Directors Association reported that the demand for cremation services had increased since the beginning of the pandemic. The statewide cremation rate in both New York — the first significant Covid hotspot — and Texas — which has had one of the highest Covid death totals in the US —  jumped above 50% in 2021, according to the NFDA.