As the COVID-19 pandemic unfurled, funeral parlours were an industry tipped to do well. But with New Zealand and Australia having only 118 deaths, demand hasn’t exploded.

This morning Propel Funeral Partners (ASX:PFP), one of only two ASX stocks in the funeral parlour business — the other being large cap Invocare (ASX:IVC), released an update.

The company revealed funeral volumes in the last 12 months were only up 1 per cent and admitted the pandemic could even be bad for its business in the coming months.

Propel concedes increased social distancing and hygiene practices would inevitably continue to prevent funerals that would have otherwise occurred.

“Social distancing measures and an increased focus on personal hygiene may result in a relatively mild flu season in 2020 and a deferral of death volumes into future periods,” the company said.

Propel also noted that restrictions on funeral attendance limited the company’s ability to operate its full range of services.

Its average revenue per funeral in April 2020 actually dropped 10 per cent compared to April 2019.


The longer term still looks good

However, it was not all bad news (at least for a funeral company). Propel did see a lift in revenue over the last three quarters of 22 per cent to $85m.

The company also expects the number of deaths and consequently business to increase in the longer term “due to growing and ageing populations” in Australia and New Zealand.

Today shares rose a modest 9 per cent, but still remain off highs reached before the pandemic broke out.