Why Locking In Casket Prices Now Might Be Smart

In times where the economy shows no mercy, being smart about long-term financial choices is key.

The funeral industry, critical in celebrating the final chapter of our lives, isn’t immune to these economic waves.

With the forecast of rising casket prices in the United States, securing today’s rates could be a relief for families, giving them a sense of security in tomorrow’s uncertain world.

Feeling the Impact of Inflation on the Funeral Industry

The widespread effect of inflation on the broader economy, with a significant jump of 13.6% in recent years, is hard to ignore.

The funeral industry, too, feels the pinch but to a lesser extent, with a modest hike in costs. This situation invites a deeper look into how inflation specifically influences funeral expenses.

  • Comparing Inflation and Funeral Costs: Although inflation is skyrocketing, funeral expenses have seen a smaller increase, at 5.8%. This difference calls for an examination of the unique factors affecting the industry.

  • Planning Challenges for Consumers: The slight increase in funeral costs, compared to overall inflation, adds to the uncertainty for those planning ahead. Today’s seemingly stable prices could jump tomorrow, making planning a challenging task.

  • How the Industry Is Adapting: The funeral sector is actively working to soften the blow from inflation through various strategies. Understanding these efforts can help consumers make informed choices.

The Escalating Cost of Saying Goodbye: A Detailed Look at Casket Prices

Rising costs in casket manufacturing, driven by inflation and hikes in raw material prices, significantly affect casket pricing.

  • The Effect of Inflation on Casket Costs: Over the last decade, the Producer Price Index (PPI) for burial caskets saw a 49.61% increase, highlighting inflation’s significant impact.

  • Dealing with Material Cost Increases: The continuous climb in costs for materials like wood advocates for securing current casket prices. This foresight can safeguard against future price rises, especially notable during the pandemic’s peak.

The Rising Price of Materials and Labor

The funeral industry has faced significant challenges due to mounting costs in casket production over the past decade, with substantial increases in both material and labor expenses.

Notably, the prices of essential materials such as steel and various hardwoods have surged, accompanied by a dramatic rise in labor costs

  • Wood and Hardwood Prices: The aesthetics and durability of hardwoods like mahogany, oak, and cherry make them central to casket design. However, environmental regulations, global demand, and limited supply have driven up their prices.

    For instance, the Producer Price Index (PPI) for Lumber and Wood Products reflects a considerable increase. The index value for lumber started at 214.8 in February 2014 and peaked at an unprecedented 444.946 in March 2022, following which there was a period of volatility with some stabilization but still at historically high levels, with the index recorded at 250.672 in February 2024.

    Such a dramatic increase over the ten-year period, with spikes and dips, poses sourcing and pricing challenges for casket producers—something which has led many away from more-traditional hardwoods, in favor of more abundant, sustainable options, like Poplar for burial caskets.

  • Steel Price Fluctuations: Similarly, steel has experienced volatility, essential for the construction of metal caskets.

    The Producer Price Index for Iron and Steel (PPI) rose from 234.9 in January 2014 to a high of 433.525 in November 2021, before stabilizing somewhat at 341.525 by February 2024.

    These numbers indicate a significant elevation from the pre-pandemic levels, shaped by the international economic climate, trade policies, and cost of production, impacting the expenses involved in casket manufacturing.

  • Labor Costs: Labor costs have also seen a steady incline as depicted by the Employment Cost Index for all employees in the United States, which has increased consistently from 118.4 in Q1 2013 to 162.1 in Q4 2023.

    This index measures the combination of wages, salaries, and employer costs for employee benefits, indicating a rise in the overall cost of labor.

    In the casket manufacturing industry, this has meant higher expenses for the skilled labor required for quality craftsmanship, which is reflected in the production costs and ultimately, the pricing to consumers.

The cumulative effect of escalating costs for steel, hardwoods, and labor presents significant economic pressure on the funeral industry. Increased manufacturing costs are transferred to consumers, affecting the final prices of caskets.

Adaptations by the industry, such as innovative pricing strategies and diverse product offerings, are responses to these challenges, underscoring the need for strategic planning and understanding of these economic forces for end-of-life preparations.

As these economic trends persist, consumers and industry professionals must approach funeral planning with a strategic mindset, taking into account these financial factors. The detailed data on the decade-long price trends for steel and hardwoods, and the marked increase in labor costs, highlight the critical nature of informed purchasing and planning to mitigate the impact of rising costs on final arrangements.

The Argument for Securing Prices Now

One option to protect your funeral planning is to buy your own casket ahead of time, offering a hedge against cost inflation. This approach not only locks in current prices but also provides emotional and financial security for families.

  • More Than Just Saving Money: The advantages of pre-purchasing extend beyond cost-efficiency, from ensuring quality and choice to enabling thoughtful funeral preparation.

  • Insights on Pre-Purchasing: Opinions from funeral directors and consumer advocates strongly support pre-purchasing, presenting a solid case for securing prices now.

Strategies for Future-Proofing Funeral Plans

Adopting pre-purchasing stands out as a critical tactic for managing funeral costs amidst inflation. This strategy, alongside sound financial planning, offers a pathway through economic uncertainties.

  • Choosing Where to Purchase: Prices can vary significantly, with funeral home caskets often being much pricier than online options. This highlights the importance of wise shopping to ensure value without compromising standards.

  • Exploring Payment Options: Investigating insurance and innovative payment plans can further ease the financial strain of funeral preparations, providing flexibility and peace of mind.


Navigating the complexities of funeral planning, especially concerning casket costs, is a challenge amidst economic fluctuations.

Opting to secure today’s prices is more than a financial strategy; it’s a considerate move towards planning for the future, reflecting deep care for loved ones in uncertain times.

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