Pinched

Even Funeral Homes Are Getting Pinched by Amazon

Cremation boxes at a funeral home in New York City.



Photo:

Angus Mordant/Bloomberg News

When death gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Many American businesses have seen demand slump during the Covid-19 pandemic while others have seen it unexpectedly surge. Yet even those in the latter category haven’t always been able to capitalize. Take a sector that has received some 215,000 customers and counting courtesy of the coronavirus: death care.

Industry leader

Service Corp. International


SCI 0.33%

said it had a 7.3% increase in services performed in the second quarter but basically no bump in revenue as a growing share of families asked for “direct cremation,” which is cheaper than burial. Not that it didn’t try to upsell: “To further enhance revenue opportunities, we continue to focus on our cremation customers’ preferences and remaining relevant by developing additional memorialization merchandise and services,” wrote the company in its filing.

You can only charge so much for an urn, though. Adding insult to injury, there are hundreds of offers on sites such as

Etsy

of cremation jewelry and river stones. Some people are turning their loved ones’ cremains into artificial diamonds, for which the Cremation Institute provides a helpful buying guide. And for those “looking for a huggable memorial,” there are ash-containing teddy bears galore for sale on

Amazon.

Like so many businesses before them, the burning question for morticians is how to survive an onslaught of e-commerce.

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