COVID-19 | SUNBIZ

Casket Sales Drop, Low Timber Supply

Some funeral homes are even contemplating closing down business temporarily.
12 Apr 2020 11:33
Casket Sales Drop, Low Timber Supply
Funeral home services are hoping that hardware stores have adequate stock of timber for construction of caskets.

The sale of caskets have dropped because of uncertainty over the supply of timber from hardware stores.

Some funeral homes are even contemplating closing down business temporarily.

And one funeral home says customers are even asking for discount on services.

A1 Funeral Services

Sajjana Nand of A1 Funeral Services has run his business for the past 11 years.

Casket sales dropped since Fiji reported its first case of coronavirus (COVID-19), he said.

“Last week, I had to credit $500 worth of timber from a timber company to build the six caskets.

“My business was already down.

“In my last sale, I sold a casket for $300.”

He said business operations were compounded by the restriction imposed on the operation of certain business services.

He said he had to lay off a casual labourer who assisted him.

“Now it’s just me and sometimes my daughter helps out.

“I have not paid my rent for the past two months.

A1 Funeral Services is located at Toorak Road, Suva.

Dominion Funerals

Dominion Funerals, which opened in 2007, said the dynamics of funeral services had changed since coronavirus (COVID-19)

The company employs five people and has not laid off any of them.

Director Joshua Chand said families opted to take the body of the deceased straight to the burial site rather than going home.

“That means, no one is hiring our hearse.”

Mr Nand said timber supply was not a concern for them.

“There might be some delays in supply and stock may run out, although at the moment thats not the case for us.”

“There is no more having two to three days of family gatherings when someone dies.”

Mr Nand said hearse drivers must have a shower after every casket is delivered.

“Before coronavirus (COVID-19) sales was good, because relatives of the deceased would travel from abroad to splash money at funeral gatherings.

“In that way, we were able to make a profit.”

Tugi Funeral Homes

Tugi Funeral Homes director Simione Tugi said business had halted because of resriction of movement following coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Fiji.

The Nadi-based family-run business would have four funerals a week, before coronavirus (COVID-19).

“It was good business then.”

The same can’t be said now, Mr Tugi pointed out.

“Depending on the model of the casket, on average we would charge $800 for a casket.

“If we get four funeral bookings in a week that would rake in about $3200.”

Mr Tugi said the funeral home provided additional services such as casket spraying and hiring of the hearse, to generate additional revenue for the company.

“That in itself would come up to $4000, which would be very good for the business.”

Mr Tui said customers were also asking for discounts.

“We can no longer stick to the normal prices that we have because we understand.

“We drop our prices sometimes and it is really hard to make profits.

“Fortunately, we already had our stock of timber for casket construction.

“We have been running this business for the past nine years.

Dignified cremations

Managing director Maurice Ruggiero said the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had no impact to the business

“Business as usual.

“People pass away just like before people, still need to be buried or cremated but there has not been any difference now.

“Our business operates on bookings, people are being told not to gather in mass gatherings so funeral homes do not operate as they used.

“It’s not like restaurants where they had to close down, for Dignified Cremations we remain open,” he said.

Feedback: laiseana.nasiga@fijisun.com.fj



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