Funeral homes in Switzerland have a problem – although in the scheme of things, it’s a good one to have.
At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Swiss funeral homes looked to stock up on coffins in order to prepare for a spike in deaths as the virus spread.
With the death rate lower than expected, they are now stuck with an oversupply which may take years to get through.
‘Getting through them is impossible’
During March, funeral homes across the country over ordered on coffins after seeing infections and death counts spiral in neighbouring Italy.
While the pandemic still had a devastating effect on much of Switzerland, the country’s effective handling of the crisis meant that infection and death rates did not reach Italy levels.
Funeral director and coffin producer Beni Hochuli told Swiss daily 20 Minutes that getting through them “is impossible”.
“To accommodate them, you need an entire gym,” he said.
Funeral director Kevin Huguenin told 20 Minutes that his company ordered 400 coffins at the start of the pandemic, despite usually only having around 40 in stock.
“This is very unusual,” Hugeinin said.
At the start of the outbreak, Hugeinin told 20 Minutes that he hoped death rates would remain low – but said it was important to be prepared for the worst.
“We are well prepared and could handle a big rush. A high number of deaths would also not be a problem” he said.
Did Swiss funeral homes panic buy?
While the outbreak of the pandemic saw people panic buying toilet paper and pasta, few thought that coffins would be subject to a similar rush.
However Hochuli said he saw the glut coming.
“At the beginning of the crisis, I too felt the huge demand,” he said.
“Even then I found this panic buying a little exaggerated.”