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Australia’s Funeral Business In A Bit Of A Tight Spot

Many of the funeral directors in Sydney and Australia have hit a bit of a snag, as not enough people are dying in the country. At least, that’s what the some are saying.

More specifically, people in the industry are saying that numbers are forecasting softer market conditions in the past couple of month, marking a drop off in deaths that haven’t really been conductive to good sales for the industry.

Earlier in August, ASX-listed funeral industry titan InvoCare reported a 50% drop in half-year profits that caused its share prices to drop by more than 12%, setting at $12.73 at the same week as the report.

The company’s data, drawing from the Births, Deaths and Marriages index from the states that it has operations in, suggest a drop in mortalities of 1.2% for the first half of 2018, with a 1.5% drop for the second quarter, in comparison to the same time in the preceding year. InvoCare has stated that, assuming the current ‘soft’ state of the market continue, then it’ll have a notable impact in their financial guidance for the full year of 2018.

Priscilla Nelson Feaver, Education Director at Mortuary and Funeral Educators & Nelson Bros. Funeral Services says that it’s difficult to actually gauge death numbers, as these figures are very much out of the control of the professionals.

Ms. Nelson Feaver, whose family has been in the funeral business for five generations now, says that the sector is far more competitive thanks to the presence of smaller companies in the market.

UBS analysts, meanwhile, noted that the recent flu season was fairly mild, and could potentially impact InvoCare’s earnings in the latter half of 2018. According to InvoCare CEO Martin Earp, fluctuations in death numbers is par for the course, and says that he expects good performance in the future.

This sentiment is somewhat supported by the data from the government. Every state in the AU tracks the death of registered citizens via their respective Births, Deaths and Marriages offices, while the Australian Bureau of Statistics handles the overall data, the problem being that confirming the figures means that tracking the deaths real time for funeral directors in Sydney and across the country is difficult.

Professor Peter McDonald of the University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health says that death rates in the AU have been on the decline for centuries now, but the ageing population meant that the number of deaths were going up.

According to data from the ABS, the number of estimated Aussie deaths went over 160,000 in 2017, an increase of about 2% from the previous years, with increases registered in all states expect for Western Australia and New South Wales.

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