Caskets and Supermarkets – Walmart enters the Death – Care Market Place!

Our great shopping icon ‘Walmart’ always there to offer us “choice” and “value” has rocked the media and funeral world this week by announcing that they are to start selling caskets.

Is this a good move? I am sure many funeral homes do not think so, but this nationalized news has brought one key message to the consuming public……..caskets ARE retail merchandise and can be bought elsewhere than a funeral home.

The funeral industry has long been content to allure its’ customers to believe a casket must be purchased from a funeral home as the ‘Point of Purchase’, although federal legislation by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) governs that a funeral home MUST accept funeral merchandise purchased elsewhere. Your funeral director will not happily volunteer this information, as the mark-up and profit they make from their casket sales is nearly always the main profit from a funeral.

When I first heard the news that Walmart was selling caskets I had a mental picture of taking Grannie down the store to pick out her desired box. Now you can imagine what sort of mental picture that snowballed from there. Which aisle will Caskets be featured in….maybe between sporting goods and outdoor living? Needless to say I was relieved to realize that Walmart’s catalogue of caskets is only available to order online. So next time you are strolling down the aisles at Walmart with little Johnny you are not likely to be confronted with an array of steel and wooden caskets, and then wonder where your five year old has disappeared to!! I can often remember my kids disappearing in the store, only to be found under some rack of clothing.

So would you buy a casket from Walmart? Are they trying to offer the consumer choice and value? Or are they just attempting to join a market with high value products and take a share of the profit? Well I have checked out their catalogue and their “choice” is limited…….but there again how many choices do we really need? And in terms of value they match many of the Casket Retailers you can buy a casket from……only many of these retailers are specialists in their industry. Prices range from a “Mom” or “Dad Remembered” steel coffin for $895, to a bronze model at $2,899.

At least Walmart have done us all a public service by bringing attention to the casket sales business! Although Sam Walton must be turning in his grave wondering just what products are going to be on the shelves of his stores next!!!

Written by

Sara is the Editor in Chief for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death care industry in the US for the last 15 years.