While the Coronavirus pandemic impacted various industries including death care services, the Australian market was valued at USD $1,521.7 million in 2020, having increased at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 3.2 per cent since 2015 according to The Death Care Services Global Market Report 2021: COVID-19 Impact and recovery to 2030.

This report, released in April 2021, forecasts the industry to grow at a rate of 5.9 per cent to 2025. It claims that factors driving this growth include an increase in the number of people opting for funeral plans and an increase in population.

While COVID-19 was an exceptional year with its impact in Australia limiting numbers at funerals, the death care services industry, which is steeped in tradition, has been generally slow to change. Dr Philip Bachelor, Cemetery Administrator and Academic at Deakin University in Victoria, believes that funerals, like all social activities are evolving, but on the whole they rely heavily on traditions.

A lecturer in the University’s Graduate Certificate in Cemetery Practice, Dr Bachelor, says there are certainly changes taking place in the death care industry but they are “slight and slow”, a claim reiterated by many in the sector.

Over the years, cremations have risen steadily to sit at 67 per cent. But it’s not a figure that’s moving really quickly, explains Chris Harrington, CEO of the Australasian Cemeteries and Crematoria Association, adding that it’s unlikely to grow to 80 per cent next year.

With 25 years’ industry knowledge, Chris has seen many changes, but believes the biggest trend is towards consumers having more information about funerals than ever before, which he credits to the internet. “The more you know about something, the less daunted you are by it,” he says.

He has noticed that while death still has a “stigma attached to it”, more people are searching for information and looking at what a funeral is, what it involves, what do we need to do and what impact will the funeral have on the environment.