NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Many things have been different since the onset of the pandemic, and people from all walks of life have been impacted by the various changes.
Jeff Smith and his family have been operating funeral homes in Central Arkansas for decades, and he's seen firsthand how the business has evolved.
“My granddad started Northwest Funeral Home valentine's day 1955,” said Smith. “There's been a lot of changes in funeral service. It really started about 10 years ago.”
As they've worked to navigate the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith explained that they've learned to serve families in different ways.
“Before the pandemic, you never would have made funeral arrangements by videoconference,” said Smith.
They have also been seeing the impacts of inflation.
“We've had the most financial pressure I’ve ever felt as a business owner this year, we have never felt the kind of pressure because everything has gone up,” said Smith.
The result of all of this has been an increase in the cost of a funeral.
“Prices typically double about every 22 years,” Smith explained. “Like all businesses, we had to raise our prices this year.”
As the prices have continued to climb, people have been planning ahead sooner than ever before.
Smith said that more and more families have been choosing cremation instead of traditional burials.
“If you go back to the 90s, probably 10% of our services end in cremation, now over 40% of our services, almost 50% end in cremation,” Smith added.
Smith said that though they hope to feel relief from inflation soon, they'll always do what they can to help.
“Funeral service is changing a lot. But at the end of the day, it's still about taking care of your friends and neighbors in their time of need,” said Smith.