Though the death business isnt exactly dying, it certainly isnt what it used to be.
In CNBCs Death: Its A Living (9 p.m. Thursday, CNBC) correspondent Tyler Mathisen takes the pulse of the funeral industry and finds it lagging.
You can blame the rising popularity of cremation for much of that. People today are favoring the ashes-to-ashes approach as never before. Its not only easier on the environment, but cremation costs a fraction of what the old casket-and-visitation rituals brought.
Mathisen visits the convention of the National Funeral Directors Association held last fall in Charlotte. There, about 6,000 funeral directors had lively parties and got a look at the industrys latest hardware, everything from a sling-crane to lift the departed to biodegradable urns.
Those who say that death imitates life are onto something. Among the trends in the death business is the shape of caskets. Like the nations waistlines, theyve getting wider to accommodate plus-size customers.
No examination of the $17-billion-a-year industry is complete without a trip to the boneyard. One woman who sells cemetery plots says the job is no different than working in real estate and location, location, location is still the driving force.