So it appears that it’s true that the funeral industry can thrive even in hard economic times, in all places, in China!
Now, what about here in America?
My experience is that American Funeral Homes may have to raise their prices even in a down economy, just because of the raise in prices for facilities and supplies.
What has it been like for you as a Funeral Director?
How about the Mortuary Transport Service industry?
How has the economy effected your business?
Morticians blamed for making too much profit from funeral industry
BEIJING, April 3 (Xinhua) — A close look at the country’s funeral industry at the eve of Qingming, a traditional festival for mourning, reveals expensive funerals, graves and other costly services for the dead, which need stricter regulations, according to social affairs official Friday.
Since 2003, the funeral service industry was selected as one of the “ten most lucrative industries” by Chinese netizens for three years in a row, according to Shanghai-based Oriental Radio Station.
A worker with the Tongzhou Funeral House of Beijing told Xinhua that private mortuaries and illegal hearses take the largest share of the industry’s profits.
Mortuaries affiliated with hospitals can provide a variety of services, he said.
The mortuary of the First Hospital affiliated to Peking University charges 300 yuan (43 U.S. dollars) for cleaning the body, 100 yuan for cutting toenails, 50 yuan for cutting fingernails, 150 yuan for dressing the body, and 600 yuan for holding a visitation. Grave clothes at a cost of less than 50 yuan could sell at more than 1000 yuan here.
But according to the charging regulations issued by Beijing civil administrative department, the maximum charge for holding a visitation should range from 50 yuan to 600 yuan. Dressing the bodies should cost 100 yuan.
“Most mortuaries are contracted to private owners, and they usually contact unregistered hearse drivers to transport the bodies. These businesses take a great share of customers and charge at an unreasonably high price,” the worker said.
Objects used for funerals are also being sold at prices much higher than their costs.
According to the proposal submitted by Wu Gang, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and deputy director of Chongqing municipal development and reform commission, an 100 yuan-cremains box could cost more than 4000 yuan, and a gravesite may cost tens of and even hundreds of thousands yuan.
Luo Zhongli, a member of the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, said: “graves are more expensive than houses, and the profit made from developing cemeteries far exceeds that of the real estate industry,”
The current practice is that private investors would buy lands from local village committees or civil administrative departments, at the price of less than 200,000 yuan per mu (0.06 hectare), on which 350 gravesites could be built. If each gravesite sells at 10,000 yuan (1,429 U.S. dollars), the total sales of the gravesites on one mu would reach 3.5 million yuan. Since cemeteries are exempt from business taxes, the developers could secure a profit rate of almost 400 percent, said Luo.
With the great financial prospect, the funeral industry has increased its popularity among job seekers.
On March 21, the Shanghai Funeral Service Center held its first job fair for university students. More than 5000 graduates competed for about 400 jobs.
“We have recruited several college students in recent years and a few quit afterwards. This proves how charming the industry is. Students can make full use of what they have learned,” Wang Hongjie, director of the Shanghai Funeral Service Center, said on its official Web site.
Despite the unfolding financial crisis, the Shanghai Funeral Service Center offered salaries ranging from 3000 to 15,000 yuan per month to its new employees.
Among the many jobs offered by funeral houses, the position of body dressers is one of the most talked-about ones in the media.
But the worker with the Tongzhou Funeral House told Xinhua that few college graduates apply for jobs in funeral houses, and all the publicity about body dressers is only media hype. With appropriate payment, it is only an ordinary job which most people still dread.
In response to the talk about “profiteering” in the funeral industry, Li Quan of the Social Affairs Department of the Civil Administrative Ministry said that the prices of various funeral objects and services should be set strictly according to related regulations and standards during the upcoming Qingming Festival, which falls on April 4 this year.
“Charges for all service items and commodities should be clearly marked. No price jacking is allowed,” the official said.
Also, the first municipal cemetery for public interest in Beijing, the Changqingyuan Ash Deposit and Cemetery, is put into use and open to public booking today.
The cemetery is free for those eligible for the minimum living standard security system and the key special-care recipients. For other citizens, each ash case is charged for 3000 yuan (428.6 U.S. dollars), with the municipal financial department subsidizing 1000yuan for them.
Also known as All Souls Day or Tomb Sweeping Day in English, Qingming is a Chinese lunar festival to remember the dead and honor ancestors by sweeping their graves and offering sacrifices.
“People are still buying flowers, food and incense for their ancestors.
There has been little sign of cutting back spending on sacrifices, despite the financial crisis, although more and more people come here by public transportation instead of private cars,” a worker with the Phoenix Mountain Memorial Park in Changping district, Beijing, told Xinhua on Friday.