Have you ever thought of having to advise a grieving family that the headstone of the deceased has no date certain to be ready? That’s a tough one…
Even family businesses with years of experience in the funeral market are not being able to specify production times. Some talk of six months, another of nine, and some have even more pessimistic forecasts.
In the United States, the granite for gravestones comes from China and India (among other sources overseas with less production capacity). While the materials for stone-working come from Europe.
Delays and rising prices mean retailers and wholesalers must wait a long time for orders. Moreover, domestic suppliers have not been able to keep up with demand.
The Grief and the market
The pandemic has escalated the death toll to frightening levels. This has affected everyone, but especially the older generations, with even the healthiest individuals already thinking about leaving the funeral arrangements in place.
The number of requests has overwhelmed the headstone industry. Even giants of the business have recently made statements about the impossibility of meeting the demand with these conditions.
Finding workers has not been easy either, even with wage increases. People who used to earn $10 an hour now earn $15 an hour, and specialist workers have risen from $20 an hour to more than $40 an hour.
Truck drivers have not escaped the crisis in the funeral market either. Deliveries are not made on time and many companies do not accept new orders to ensure that they will meet the ones already made.
Getting a headstone is getting harder and harder
Prior to the pandemic, domestic vendors in the United States promised delivery in 45 days, while international exporters delivered in 90. You can now expect more than double that amount.
Even though the yearly order average has increased by nearly 20%, raw material prices have increased by 3% to 4% in January. Since 2021, the price has already been adjusted twice by 8%.
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