Walmart has started selling caskets and urns on its website at prices that undercut many funeral homes. Discount warehouse Costco began making coffins available a few years ago. Are the stores being tacky, or just offering shoppers a bargain in a time of need?
A bargain is a bargain: "The price of being dead just dropped," says Douglas A. McIntyre in 24/7 Wall St., and, in this economy, that's "a good thing." With Walmart offering caskets for as little as $999 -- shipped within 48 hours -- mourning shoppers can save money without resorting to buying or building a pine box.
"Discount death: Wal-Mart sells caskets online"
You must admit -- it's a little icky: Sure, many people will be pleased about this, says Scott Jagow in PublicRadio.org, but it's easy to understand why others "might recoil at the idea of a coffin from Walmart." Apparently, there are "few, if any," boundaries on what big-box stores will sell. "I wonder what’s next? Maybe you’ll be able to pick up a death certificate at the cash register, in addition to gift cards and gum?"
"Checking out at Walmart"
Tacky or not, this will hurt funeral homes: Many people will still want the comfort of dealing with a funeral home director, says Bruce Watson in Daily Finance. And some "bereaved survivors" may be too upset to bargain shop. But many customers see nothing wrong with saving money on funerals -- all but four of Walmart's 15 casket models are currently sold out online. "For the traditional funeral industry, this could be a devastating development."
"Save money, die better: Walmart now selling discount coffins, urns online"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- California's epic drought
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How Scotland's independence movement lost the vote and still won everything
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- Obama knows he can't really 'defeat' ISIS. Americans need to wake up to that reality, too.
- Why so many Christians won't back down on gay marriage
Subscribe to the Week